Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sun King's Crown

The K'inich cuts where blood is sweetest and catches it in the offering cup:
Sacred sacral sanguine saccharum sangraal.

Dank halls call for a vital quaff -- spiced burnt wine for the song-haunted liege:
Bejeweled brow troubled by the riddle of steel.

In the shadow of the Omphale, Pythia upon her tripod chews laurel amid the foul vapors:
 Voyez-vous le crève des rêves révélatrices!

Richness layers in words and drink alike.
If you think you can improve, then by all means create!
To both king and god make fit.

 Sun King's Crown
1 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac
3/4 oz Lustau Palo Cortado Solera Reserva Peninsula sherry
1/2 oz The King's Ginger
1/4 oz Solerno blood orange liqueur
Usquebaugh-filled Lemon-Herb Iceball with lemon twist circlet (see recipes below)

*looks up* Do I sense a theme here?

Stir the first four ingredients without ice in your serving goblet. Carefully add the iceball, lemon-crown up.

You may sip when the outside of the glass has become frosty (not very long, but enough to let some dilution occur).

The drink itself is a study in liquid gold. It begins a noble quaff, each of the base spirits presenting in turn: hearty with an unmoving cognac anchor, rich and maple-nutty with sherry, the spice of ginger and faint smoke around the edges an accent bell's rattle, opulent with blood orange and just the right bright lemon note. It grows honeyed as the ice melts, until it gives way to a meditative pilgrimage through the mystic desert of bitter herbs and tea, paling in clarion call of faint lemon. And then, on last sip, you taste the lion's growl in your throat: spicy Usquebaugh.

And just when you thought I was going weak on my art pieces.

Would you believe the idea for this drink originated with this recipe? Yes it did, yes I did (or at least managed for 5 of 7 days). Vegan with a quaff of salad dressing every morning. The fresh ingredients made up for a lot and it worked, inflammation-wise. But that's not the point.

That entire ingredient list for the cleanse drink? Sun Medicine, as pertains to the astrological sign Leo. And the Sun King's Crown ingredient list? You see the regal, Sun (Sol), citrus and ginger refs? How the ice sphere is a glowing yellow orb (perhaps with a noticeable orange core if the ice is clear enough)? The Greek word for king: Basil? The allusion to the myth of Apollo and Daphne (the bay laurel tree)?

Have I mentioned that it's ok for you to call me completely farschtunken nuts? I'm fine with it and I think you'll feel better for airing the truth.

And if you have rotten tomatoes I'll take those as well. I know, I kvetch on Twitter about PLCB stock limitations at the same time I include bitters only obtainable through mail-order and other oddball ingredients. Well, I'm sure NONE of you have homemade Usquebaugh* in your cabinet, or at least won't for several months. (although if you do, I would like to meet you and buy you a drink) Other thematic, spicy, brightly-colored 80 proof spirits would work fine as substitutes here.

*which you can improve upon by adding culinary gold flake to make...wait for it....Royal Usquebaugh. (would it be gilding the lily to suggest a dash of King Cocktail's new aromatic bitters wouldn't be out of place in the cocktail either?)

For lemon-herb water:

4 cups near-boiling water
zest of 2 lemons, heavy with pith, chopped into 1" pieces (may be post-juicing spent rinds)
2 cups lightly-packed fresh basil leaves and stems
4 fresh bay leaves
  • In a heat-safe non-reactive container, add the latter 3 ingredients followed by the hot water.
  • Cover and let steep an hour.
  • Once an hour has elapsed, remove the basil and bay leaf and cover to continue steeping.
  • Once cool, transfer liquid and lemon to the fridge, the point being to let the pith bitter the water.
  • I found about 10 hours after removing the herbs produced the right bitterness. At this point I strained out the lemon, then returned the liquid to the fridge until I was ready to use it.
Some influences.

Notice the lemon twist circlet in the ice.

For the Ice Ball:

  • Make lemon-herb water.
  • Cut a lemon twist that, circled with ends crossed, makes a circlet to go about the circumference of the ice ball.
  • Add the twist upside down and then the lemon-herb water to a Tovolo ice ball mold. Freeze until it's a sphere with a small core of water and a thick sturdy outer shell.
  • Drain the water core, freezing the sphere again to firm up if needed, then fill with Usquebaugh and plug up the hole. Keep in freezer until needed.
You want to experiment here with regular water first to observe how fast your freezer will do this, and then with some sort of cheap alcohol to practice filling the sphere without the alcohol wearing a hole through the bottom. I've found, with my old-old freezer at maximum, the process will take about 3.5 hours (and not a minute more) to freeze to the right thickness.

It's something to keep an eye on until you get a sense of how it works for you. For me, sometimes the ice will freeze unevenly (top heavy). Not to mention it's more difficult to drill a hole when the sphere is at the correct thickness instead of starting it before. You may want to simply add a fill-hole placeholder at the beginning, or, as I did, at 2.5 hours I flipped the sphere upside-down in the mold so the new bottom had the better supportive thickness and started the fill-hole through the thinner top with a very miniature funnel (also good as a placeholder through the hole at the top of the mold).

As for adding alcohol, regardless of what you use, Usquebaugh or a substitute: 1) Add water to dilute the proof and help the refreezing take. Doing this at home without a special blast freezer (as opposed to something like this) means you'll need to compromise the filling, but if you choose a filling with potent flavor and color, dilution won't take away much from it. 2) Chill the filling beforehand. 3) Add the filling on a bias to your drilled hole with an eyedropper - there isn't going to be much room in there with the correct ice thickness anyway - and rotate the sphere as you fill to minimize erosion in any one place.

The plus side to all this practice and work? You've just been given techniques you can use to your creativity's unlimits.

Et pour les pédants, je sais que mon français est impropre. Je vous dis: Considérez-vous Apollo, Apollinaire, les deux sexes de Pythie (pace Camille Paglia), et le proverbe célèbre de Delphi. Je le déforme et abuse avec intention.