Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Fleur-de-lys - a New Cocktail

The fleur-de-lys has been associated with France for centuries. It's been used in various ways on its flags since the 13th Century. Seeing it on a product or building or object summons up for me the slightly over-refined fastidiousness of the French fine art tradition, and the preoccupation with encrusted decoration which the association implies. France's long history of monarchical rule undoubtedly is responsible for it.

It originally was an adaptation of the lily flower, and is meant, visually, to represent six petals, or leaves, three of them alternatively straight, meeting at their tops, the other three on the opposite, bending down so that the middle one seems to make one with the stalk and only the two ones facing out from left and right can clearly be seen. Other monarchical entities in Europe have also used the symbol, as well--but it's still commonly regarded as French.

French Royal Standard.

Royalist French flag.

Pre-Revolutionary flag of France.

The current day flag of Quebec.

Sugar is a crystal, a carbohydrate which nearly all living things use to burn energy. Our bodies get sugar directly, or synthesize it from other food substances, inside the body. Our ability to taste sweetness as a quality probably was an adaptation designed to maximize our intake of energy producing substances in nature, such as fruit or honey. Of course, since the elaboration of food experiment and adaptation, our attraction to sweets has not only produced the intense pleasure associated with sweets, but has been used against us through the exploitation of sugar-laced products, and ultimately contributes to disease and degeneration when taken in excessive amounts, which far exceed what our sensitivity to it was designed to accomplish, along the evolutionary time-line of our descent.

But sugar taken in moderation is a great pleasure, especially when added to other food types such as chocolate, bitter fruits, and alcoholic beverages. I came up with this concoction the other evening, and it immediately seemed to me to capture this sense of French sweetness, hence its name.

Ingredients, by proportion --

4 parts No 10 Tanqueray Gin
1.5 parts Limoncello
1 part Peach Schnapps
tiny portion (about a half gram) zest of grapefruit

Shaken and served up. The zest may accumulate in the bottom of the cocktail glass, which is just fine. It can be savored at the end, in the same way a strip of orange or lemon garnish which has become impregnated with the liquid can be enjoyed. But no garnish is needed for this drink. Its sweetness has a purity and sophistication which probably results from the interaction of the herbs in the gin, the peach flavor, with the dry citrus in the grapefruit skin. Give it a try, and salute the French!


Anonymous said...

The Fleur-de-lys cocktail sounds superb. I can't wait to try it (tonight). The Suntory single malt piece was excellent also. I never knew.

J said...

Saluting the Fleur-de-lys--phlag of the Bourbons/ancien regime-- does not imply saluting the modern french, does it Sir F--with Robespierre's motto of "egalite, etc" still on the tricolor. Pretty though. Wasn't it ...Lombard, really. Like flying when the french cavalry finally arrived at the siege of vienna (one of em) and mowed down a few thousand turks. Avaunt!

Gin we no longer do, alas. Plus...rather Brit. rather than gallic, isn't it? Courvosier, or ...that cointreau brew.
But seal vous play, no french reds. Chianti and authentic porto mo' bettah.