Thursday, February 20, 2014

Not Quite Mixology Monday, February 2014: Sours

Hi everybody! Boomer here. MoD's been seriously hibernating after having one too many cups of Punchatawney Phil (a thing for another year, methinks. I told her to go easy on the nutmeg..) and I figured she'd want me to get this latest post up for her. Sorry for the lateness, it's not truly a Mixology Monday post since it's way past deadline, but these little paws of mine can only hit keys so fast (fortunately, I am a wireless mouse, so there is that).

Andrea over at the delightful and inventive Ginhound is this month's host with the "how did something this supremely classic get overlooked?" theme: Sours.
Some of the most iconic cocktails are Sours. Of David Embury's core six cocktails two are sours: The Daiquiri and the Sidecar.

There is a reason for this: A perfectly balanced sour is a work of art. What has happened to the Margarita shows exactly what is at stake when mixes replace bartender skill.

For this month's MxMo I suggest that we test the sour to the limit: Are there citrus besides lemon, lime and grapefruit that works in a Sour? Is citrus the only possible souring ingredient? Could vinegar or other tart fruits or vegetables be used? Let's also include the Daisies and the Fizzes - that widens the playing field with eggs and whatever makes you fizz to play with.
When active, this link will point you to the round-up of all the contributions entered in time.

Hummm....sour, sour sour... Everyone seems to be going on about Sours in their posts, so here's something MoD wrote about them awhile back:
[...] Bitter wouldn't be an appropriate direction so Sour stepped in and offered the courtly Sidecar structure: like a lady in her ballgown, the spirit is the woman herself, with the right of her voluminous skirt decorated in Sweet balanced by the left of her skirt decorated in Sour.
She really didn't have a good idea to start. Thought she was going to do something related to HAL 9000 for a little bit, the way she was mumbling something about Daisies and bicycles built for two (you don't want to know the lyrics she was murmuring in her sleep!). Besides, as her research assistant, I pointed out to her that a vodka/Tang combination was already called the Buzz Aldrin - though it could count as a Sour because Tang has a rough pH of 2.70, not too far off from lemon or lime.

With that idea shot down, I moved in for the kill, subliminally implanting a surefire ingredient idea I couldn't wait to taste: peanut butter! (hey, with some of the cocktails she comes up with, sometimes it's nice to throw the taster a bone - and if you're throwing bone luges at me, nothing larger than a chicken bone, 'k?) Granted, it's a slightly difficult ingredient to incorporate into a drink but it's so nummy and I can just see a PB&J Whiskey Sour an' I Oh. Laura over at Sass & Gin already did that scarfalicious cocktail. Wait, what're you doing then, MoD?

Aw, ma, savory?! In a Sour?! Do I hafta?

Peanut Mirage
2 oz mezcal
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz nocino
1/4 oz peanut syrup
2 dashes mole bitters
5 drops soy sauce
1 egg white
1/2 oz/splash ginger ale
equal parts ground cumin/coriander spice mix for garnish

Dry shake all but ginger ale, then add ice and shake to chill/dilute.
Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass containing the ginger ale.
Garnish with a small pinch of spice mix over the foam.

Peanut syrup: equal parts hot water, peanut butter.
Whisk until smooth.

  • Nose: rich, sweet peanut butter (with underlying milky/roasted senses) and savory mezcal smoke dancing to coppery ginger; citrusy cumin and coriander.
  • Between the peanut butter and egg white, the sip comes off remarkably creamy, but without the attendant sweetness you might expect; the rhythm section provided by the nocino, bitters and soy sauce pulls it in a dark savory direction away from sweetness. In fact, if you increase your splash of ginger ale beyond the 1/2 oz, I can see this cocktail rising to an aperitif: the underlying acidity, herbal notes and subtle bitterness remind me a lot of dry vermouth. Otherwise, the drink remains heavier, emphasizing the savory/spicy notes.
  • This is the second cocktail MoD's done combining agave spirits and nocino, and I haven't seen this combo much elsewhere. Kinda surprised: their earthy qualities reinforce and contrast one another well.
  • Mezcal: fitting with the peanut butter, tamed by the big flavor. Lime: not overkill but still bright at 1/2 oz. Nocino: enhances the nuttiness, and brought to mind by some homemade peanut butter/walnut fudge. Peanut syrup: thins out the peanut butter so it can mix, keeps the drink lighter than expected; added salt a plus, no need to further sweeten. Mole bitters: enhances the dark notes and bridges. Soy sauce: umami, baby. Egg white: appropriate in a sour, but also adds emulsification to prevent fine peanut sediment. Ginger ale: gingery nod to mezcal and other savory spice notes, Daisy-esque touch which prevents heavy compressed flavors. Spice mix: final bit of savory; nods to Thai, Mexican and African flavor profiles.

Cheers to all the MxMoers who had their game together this month, to Andrea for an awesome theme, and to Fred for the cat-wrangling (just not towards me, ok? Or I may have to hit them with my super-sonic death ray...or, y'know, run away..).