Monday, June 17, 2013

Mixology Monday, June 2013: Cherry, part 2

And here's a second recipe for this month's Mixology Monday with the theme of Cherry (details for this month in the first post).

It's kind of convoluted how I got to this recipe. The ingredients on their faces are natural fits and there are already similar recipes out there. But since last year my summer cocktail muse, the smoky backwoods with elements of barbecue and southern Appalachia (see here for earlier muse-madness), has been compelling me to make a cocktail called the Smoky Mountain Salamander. God knows if this moonshine-hot cherry pepper infusion will work out -- maybe I'll just do a post about it pointing out what not to do, depending.

But one of the compulsions about this potential cocktail was the use of sour cherries -- pin (or "fire" or "bird") cherries to be precise, given how they thrive in the Smoky Mountains. Perfect for this month's theme, ne? For the past couple of weeks I've been keeping an eye and ear out for news that any kind of sour cherry might be in season -- they go so fast too -- but we're not quite there yet. Having my doubts about the SMS in the meanwhile should it not turn out, for lack of quality or fresh sour cherries, I was also brainstorming on the side for a variation. I think this recipe, with numerous elements from my original SMS idea, just hit me out of the blue and made me go 1) I wanna drink this (note to self: focus on this more when creating cocktails) and 2) why shouldn't this replace the original plans for the SMS?

The purist/optimist part of me is having none of #2, so, this recipe will just have to stand on its own, thematically:

Thin cinnamon sticks also make good cherry-picks here.

So We're Havin' a BBQ, huh?
2 oz Jack Daniels
1/2 oz ROOT
1/4 oz Schwartzhog liqueur
shot glass full of (pitted) sour cherries
1 big dash (8-9 drops) Bitter End Memphis BBQ bitters
rinse Islay whisky
sour cherries for garnish

Rinse a chilled rocks glass with the whisky (discard the excess), add a large ice cube and set aside.
In a shaker muddle cherries and bitters, then add the JD, ROOT, and Schwartzhog.
Shake all on ice then double-strain into your prepared glass.
Garnish with more sour cherries on a pick or a nice juicy 1" cube of grilled steak.

  • ROOT can be pretty dominant in any cocktail, but here it plays well with everything else, the cherry notes especially helping to moderate it. You can get a small taste of everything around the edges, but largely the cocktail melds into something cherry-herbal, comfy and easy-drinking, with bits of smoke and spice (them bitters is spicy!) to create atmosphere. Though I haven't tried it with the steak garnish, I think it would be immensely satisfying.
  • I chose Schwartzhog because, while somewhat slight, it would provide some bitter herbal notes for depth, with its cherry cola note matching well with the other ingredients. If lacking Schwartzhog, Ramazzotti or Cynar would do in a pinch.
  • Fresh sour cherries like Montmorency or Morello would be ideal (or pin cherries if you happen to have some forageable trees nearby). Being it's still a little early in the season for sour cherries, I made do with some jarred Amish brandied tart cherries I've had in my fridge since Frau Totenkinder (still quite good, if lacking the rich mouth-punch you would get from fresh). Wos-Wit's a bit more of a regional brand, but they're very comparable to these water-packed pie cherries (syrup-packed will be too sweet), which you should be able to find at your local supermarket. [last year was heavy on the cherry explorations, clearly]

Thanks to Andrea for hosting and Fred for coordinating another great round of Mixology Monday! Here are the round-up posts of all the great cherry recipes!

[Update (06-29-2013): Ohh yes yes yes yes yes. Sour cherry season has hit and there is no better fruit for this cocktail. Fresh sour cherries, while sharing a note with the brandied tart cherries, just make this drink come ALIVE. And while not as intensely sour as I had been led to believe, they make the cocktail quite refreshing and less sweet than the brandied cherry version -- a great aperitif! Try using a not-quite-full shot glass, so they don't dominate all the other wonderful flavors going on.]