Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chicks and Mother Hen

You never know what you might find on an Easter egg hunt..

Would you believe that I've been sitting on these recipe ideas for over a year? (and I won't repeat that often, but from here on out it's quite possible an idea got triaged from an earlier year, just for time, scheduling and resources) Frankly, it's about darn time these chicks hatched!

In this case, I had a very late special order of advocaat -- a brandy-based egg custard liqueur that's a traditional digestif in the Netherlands -- to contend with. Naturally, it's especially popular around Eastertime, though I'm somewhat surprised more hasn't been done with that angle. There's a Fluffy Duck recipe (more on that later in the week), but that's as close as advocaat gets to an Easter theme. So let's change that, and give you an option a little more naturally-flavored than Peeps.

Chick shots
1 part Advocaat
1 part apricot nectar*

Depending on how many shots you're making, add a cube or two of ice to the shaker along with the 2 ingredients, to help agitate. Shake and pour into shotglasses. Shoot these little low-alcohol sweet eggy bursts of yumminess to your heart's content!

*seriously, don't fret about using the canned stuff. You'll be lucky enough to find non-cardboard-tasting apricots in peak season in late summer, let alone at Easter time. Any store taking the chance of stocking apricot nectar will stock decent stuff for our purposes here. Besides, when mixing with advocaat, all we really want is sweetness and a bit of flavor.

But now then, now that we have the baby recipe down, what say we find what happens when baby loses its fresh-from-the-egg qualities and grows up?

Mother Hen
1 1/2 oz bourbon
1 oz dry-ish madeira (sercial or verdelho)
3/4 oz apricot brandy
2 dashes Dandelion & Burdock bitters
1 dash aromatic bitters

Stir all on ice and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a brandied apricot.

On what I used: Bulleit bourbon; Blandy's 5yr Verdelho; homemade apricot brandy (from the recipe at bottom here) using Remy Martin VSOP, from which I obtained my garnish; and Fee Bros. Old-Fashioned Aromatic bitters (careful on this: it's easy to overdo with the angostura bark notes). If without homemade apricot brandy with the apricots still in to use as garnishes, try simmering some dried apricots in brandy until slightly darker and plump, about half an hour or so.

If you want to work the full Hen pun glory, use the Kickin' Chicken itself, Wild Turkey 81 bourbon (yes, 81 and not 101: females are smaller than males) plus use Hennessy for the apricot brandy. Madei- is already close to Madre, so the fortified wine's covered.

The bourbon sets the tone with the apricot brandy's fruit notes (passionfruit and apricot) prominent, with the acidity of the Madeira rounding the edge and the bitters' savory, warm spice and barnyard notes providing texture and depth (barnyard as in straw and hay, not that dressed-up tasting note for manure - I almost used this combo for the Bull's Meadow, there's something wonderfully pastoral about it). I can't comment on brands of apricot brandy, but I found my homemade apricot brandy (using Sun-Maid dried Mediterranean apricots) led with big notes of passionfruit -- a fitting connection to Easter, natch.

In all, you get some down-home on the farm with the bourbon, some Sunday aperitif with the Madeira, and a light sweet warmth from the apricot brandy, with some spice and mussed feathers thrown in for good measure.

Happy Easter!