Friday, April 19, 2013

Ducklings and Mother Duck

Hour 1: Make way for ducklings! Gee, there sure are a lot of you little ones..

Hour 2: You really don't stop, do you? Just one big long line of ducklings as far as the eyes can see..

Hour 5: Any of you guys want some Rice Krispies? Y'know, just hang out for awhile instead of waddling for miles? And really now, where are your mothers?!

Day 8: *a passerby has stopped to marvel at the balsa wood staircases and platforms, directing the endless line of ducklings in almost-Escher-like ways, though ultimately never distracting them long from their course. Miniature red and white umbrellas can be seen discarded at various junctures*

"Did these guys do all that?"

Heh, that would've been nice. I gave up on playing Lemmings when I ran out of materials. Now I'm trying to come up with a Rube Goldberg machine made entirely out of ducklings.

Day 14: *the line of ducklings has slowed. The few continuing on bounce up every now and again as the earth rumbles* *morning stretch* Gooood mornin', chickie-kids. What's the latest? *the sky dims* *looks up* *blink blink*

QUACK.        QUACK.

It's the Mother Load!


Duckling shots
1 part Advocaat
1 part pear soda

Add the (chilled) pear soda to your shot glasses first, followed by the advocaat - this way the advocaat will integrate better and not stick to the glasses as much. Give the shots a stir with a chopstick if you like; the advocaat should suppress loss of fizz. The pear soda gives the shot a refreshing dryness without being too sweet. Pear nectar tends to be sweet overkill, and the soda's fizz matches the aquatic nature of the bird - it makes me think of a duckling ruffling itself and shaking its tail.

Wondering where to find pear soda? I was too, for over a week! I went been to nearly 10 grocery stores, farmers' markets and convenience stores before lucking out. The duck gods must've wanted me to work for it, or maybe they just wanted me to pick up some lingonberry preserves. Yes, that's right, I found my pear soda at, of all places, IKEA (16.9oz cans ready in their food goods refrigerated section). Quite tasty, a developed flavor with some dryness. In case you don't have in IKEA nearby, though, try perhaps a Whole Foods, which typically, most weeks, carries the Kristian Regale brand (also Swedish, which gave me the idea to check IKEA). Beyond that, a local grocery store might carry R.W. Knudsen's Sparkling Pear, or check a store like Home Goods or TJ Maxx to see what indie brands they might have.

It all started with the Fluffy Duck, and the Advocaat/egg-related spring animal ideas inspired by it: baby birds that is, hence shooters. But, there was more space to do regular cocktails beyond the shooters, so it made sense to "mature" the shots into fully-fledged cocktails. To follow the pre-established pattern, apricot was the flavor of choice for Chicks and Mother Hen, so for Ducklings and Mother Duck we have fizzy pear (because, quite frankly, ducks are pear-shaped!).

To gussy up Mama Duck, we have a cocktail with pear eau-de-vie, Aquackvit, and Tuaquack:

For this cocktail, tip duck over
and pour her out.
Mother Duck
1 oz green tea-infused aquavit
1 oz pear eau-de-vie
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz Tuaca
1 drop aromatic bitters
1 1/2 oz San Pellegrino
dill sprig

Stir first five ingredients with a couple of ice cubes to dilute and chill, then strain into a sherry copita or cocktail glass.

Top with an ounce and a half of San Pellegrino (the minerality is a good accent here).

Garnish with a dill sprig.

Green tea infused aquavit: 1 teabag green tea, 1/2 cup aquavit, 45 minutes, no shaking. [updated to include]

In all, Mother Duck is drier, more savory, and less ruffled than Mother Hen. The green tea Aquavit adds a mellow substantiveness and combines seemlessly with the pear eau-de-vie, with a sense of smoothness imparted by the Tuaca's vanilla. The flavor reminds me of rustic woodlands and the coloration of Mama Mallard up above, right down to the dill-like clump of algae you might see her nibbling.

The visual of dill in a cocktail drew me to aquavit, in my case to caraway and anise-infused Krogstad based on availability and potential use of dill in its botanicals. Any type of aquavit would probably work well here, not just one with dill: aquavit's savory characteristics are what's important. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my dill-in-cocktails-full-stop inspiration: the beautiful Freeside from Cocktail Democracy, with a wonderful bit on general cocktail inspiration at that.

On the aromatic bitters: since these duck recipes are trending Scandinavian, Swedish bitters would be a nice touch. If you don't have those, Angostura, Urban Moonshine or Fee's Old Fashioned would do in a pinch. Just a little something earthy, dark, and diffuse in flavors to help balance the Tuaca and pear eau-de-vie -- being mindful that the cocktail is somewhat delicate in flavor and too much shows up fast.

That said, I'm not entirely wedded to the dry vermouth lengthener, but availability of dry quinquinas or gentian aperitifs is sparse around these parts. I used Vya Extra Dry, which imparts a nice rustic herbal quality in keeping with theme, though I'd be curious how an aperitif wine like Suze might work (perhaps omit the bitters here?).

In short: this ain't your mother's Taiwan Duck Fart, nuh-uh.

[Stay tuned, dear readers (and when I say that, I mean later this afternoon!). The last two weeks have been a royal whumping both at work and for my recipe schedule here. We're going to try to fix that, starting now and for the rest of the month of April. There's a MxMo coming up and the My Favorite Things and Ti(n)sanity series require their monthly updates, among other items.]