Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mixology Monday, March 2014: Preserves, part 2

[Insert picture here when taken - this particular composition needs natural, morning light, and a very specific prop. It'll be up Wednesday morning. moving real slow this week -- The Management]

Welcome back to Mixology Monday here at Feu de Vie! We've got a second, much more classically-hewing recipe for this month's theme: Preserves. (Head on over to Craig Umpleby's A World of Drinks, where there will soon be a round-up post of all the delightful concoctions.)

One of the best things about being a cocktailian and someone who late-bloomed from being a picky eater is discovering the wide range of flavors and foods in the world at an age where it can best be appreciated. Even better, so many new fruit flavors and more can be explored within the relatively "safe" medium of a preserve. Heck, as soon as I moved out from home it was a bottle of currant jelly and a bottle of apricot preserves, and it was all downhill from there (with maybe a little tequila thrown in for good measure).

Following up on that initial impulse, visits to HomeGoods and other stores with obscure offerings are a regular occurrence now. And, despite the gigantic brand name (literally, just look at the lettering on any of the blue-and-yellow buildings), IKEA has been home to some can't-find-anywhere-else ingredients: gooseberry preserves, pear soda, the best price anywhere on lingonberries, and then, the very-new-to-me pièce de resistance: cloudberry jam.

Ethereal, floral, much like honey but fruitier and more floral again.

JAM SOUR. Full stop.

But before getting to the recipe to showcase these show-stoppers, first a little background on these rare delicacies. A drupe like raspberries and blackberries but bright golden orange with rosy undertones, cloudberries tend to grow at mostly northern latitudes comprising Scandinavia and the British Isles, Russia, Canada and Alaska, and go by other names like salmonberry and bakeapple. In Sweden, they are Hjortron (ready-made for a Jeff Bridges-meets-Dr. Seuss mash-up - and I'm not talking White Russians). In Finland, they are Lakka.

So to show off these little gems, a nice dry white spirit was in order. Having used tequila and rum of late, and gin being a bit of a flavor show-off itself, grape-spirited pisco with brandy's affinity for fruit flavors seemed the right way to go. Further, the honeyed aspect of the jam put in mind a number of other honey-sweetened sours like the Brown Derby, the Airmail, the Bee's Knees, etc.. The Brown Derby's grapefruit led me to the Seventh Heaven and the El Floridita, and then finally searching Kindred Cocktails for "pisco" and "grapefruit juice." A number of Pisco Sour riffs popped up, most hewing rather closely to the style of the Miraflores, the direct model I used here.

Ah, so the cloud-berries of Scandinavia and the towering heights of the Andes. Sounds like a recipe for climbing a beanstalk to the whimsical heights of the Mushroom Kingdom.

2 oz pisco
3/4 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
1/4 oz lime juice
(fat) 1/2 oz cloudberry jam
1 egg white
1 dash Teapot bitters
2 dashes Boker's bitters
garnishes: dropper of dark-colored (pimento) bitters for egg white art, 
unshelled lychee nuts or rambutan

Dry shake, wet shake, double-strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish like you're 7 years old on summer vacation in the mid-'80s.

So it's not lychee or rambutan season, apparently, let alone would fresh cloudberries be available. *sigh* [the final pic will be worth it -- that is to say, substitute a fresh lychee or rambutan for the dried jujube hanging off the glass, and fresh cloudberries instead of raspberries for the Spinies]

A simple, happy sour, with or without garnish. The cloudberry features strongly, supported by the grapefruit juice (I also tried both white and pink grapefruit here - the bitterness of both detracted and stood out like a sore thumb), the hint of lime keeping the recipe bright and shapely. To mimic Miraflores' dual bitters, I selected a pair from Dr. Adam Elmegirab's collection (their rum base harmonizes well here): the strong/spicy Boker's to weight and whimsical Teapot to match the Nintendo attitude and further decorate the cloudberry. The pimento bitters for decoration also mimics the Peychaud's bitters' anise, while providing handy colorant for a certain image.

Cheers to Craig for a wonderful hosting job and a fun theme, and to Fred, as always for the cat wrangling - may you never be turned into a wolf and have to hunt down 20 cats in an abandoned one-street western town, just for a measly piece of heart.