Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mixology Monday, July 2013: Flip Flop!

Ok, I have no excuse. I've been on vacation to La La Land for awhile now. But there's nothing like the siren song of MxMo to get one's head back in the game.

Our own Fearless Leader, Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut, grabs the reins for this month's edition -- Mixology Monday 75, natch! -- calling us all back from our private Tiki huts on beaches far and wide and presents us with a deceptive little challenge that doesn't take us too far from the beach or boardwalk: Flip Flop!
I thought of the theme for this month's Mixology Monday shortly after making the Black Rene, an obscure drink from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. The combination of brandy, amber rum, lemon, and Maraschino was tasty, but I felt that the recipe could be improved if I swapped in different ingredients. Taking a page from Max Toste of Deep Ellum who converted the Black Devil into the White Devil, I flipped around the ingredients to be pisco, white rum, lime, and Maraschino instead. With this combination that I called the White Rene, the drink really sang but it was still recognizable as being an alteration of the original recipe. Others have done similar swaps with grand effect including the Bluegrass Mai Tai that that changes the two rums to two whiskeys and swaps lime for lemon from the classic while holding everything else the same.

Find a recipe, either new or old, and switch around at least two of the ingredients to sister or cousin ingredients but holding the proportions and some of the ingredients the same. The new recipe should be recognizable as a morph of the old one when viewed side by side. Want to make an amaro version of a Vieux Carré or a new twist on a Negroni? Go for it!
When active, this link will send you to the summary post of this month's festivities.

This month's theme was deceptive...ly difficult. In a world full of Manhattan, Sidecar and Corpse Reviver riffs -- heck, look at CVS for all that and more -- how do you pick something that hasn't already used those formulas with the ingredients you'd want to use? It took until late tonight to get the recipe down at that, and it was a matter of taking a step back, looking at my own style and going "heeeeey, I did that ketchup Blood and Sand: the more Out-There, the better! (and the less-likely it'll already have been done)". So, dear reader, you're getting a double dose of Strega tonight!

The Accoutrement, by Chris Hannah of Arnaud's French 75 in NOLA was one of the first (*scratches head* maybe only?) recipes I found that put a good use to my bottle of Strega, an Italian herbal liqueur that goes all over the map with juniper, saffron, mint, and anise among other flavors. As you might sense, it's a touch particular in its pairings, but Mr. Hannah seems to have made it his pet project to showcase this unique liqueur.

For MxMo, I tag along, using the same ratios and some of the ingredients of the Accoutrement, but switch the calvados to Irish whiskey and the orange liqueur to citrus-undertoned Crème Yvette.

Accoutrement and Penannular Brooch

Penannular Brooch
2 oz Irish whiskey (Tullamore Dew 12 Year)
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz Strega
1/2 oz Crème Yvette
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
lemon twist for garnish

Shake all on ice and double-strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lemon loopy-loop.

The Accoutrement makes an excellent display of the Strega while not hitting you over the head with its aromatics: it's a golden trumpet of saffron first, square upon a mid-level flavor foundation of apple-citrus. The brandied cherries, especially if spiced, help those notes in the Strega emerge all the more. The recipe sings class.

Meanwhile, the Penannular Brooch is reedy with wood-cereal-green apple and the brightness of berry and moody violet: there's a touch of saffron at the center of its taste, but the spices (cinnamon) and green herbs (mint, fennel/anise) come through more, especially on the nose as the cocktail lingers. Dare I say it, but there's a touch more flavor depth to this one tasted side-by-side.

I highly recommend the Tullamore Dew 12 Year for this recipe, as one of its most prominent notes is big green apple - a not-too-distant cousin of calvados. I originally thought gin would work well and would help enunciate all Strega had to offer, but it ended up too muddled and wasn't as strong a base as the original calvados (alas! I was all set to make a Strega - Blue Moon cocktail connection called the Cimaruta, but perhaps someone else can grab that and run with it).

Big thanks to Fred for both hosting and cat herding this month! This was a real doozy of a theme.

I can only imagine what's next on the horizon.. *ducks*