Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Still More Variations from the Stainless Steel Counter

In the constantly shifting round-robin of ingredients, inevitably there will be some duplication. How many permutations are possible today, given the number of different kinds of spirits, liqueuers, flavored additives, etc., which one can find on the market? 

Lately, there's been an explosion of taste enhancers, known traditionally as "bitters"--which is to say, a combination of alcoholic base, to which is added (mostly natural) flavor agents, such as various herbs and spices. Just a few years ago, about the only kinds of these products one could find were Angostura Bitters, Peychaud Bitters, and the occasional Orange Bitters. Today, there are dozens of different mixes and brands. Some of these flavors can be created using easily available spirits or "aperitifs" while others can be quite exotic. The bitters craze is partly a renewed interest in the past, when such additives were more common; but it also may be a harbinger of a new more baroque epoch in alcoholic beverages. Variety is the spice of . . . or variety is spice itself. Flavor variation. Subtlety of expression. Difference. Diversity!

Recreations of traditional recipes share billing with new concoctions by bartenders trying to generate curiosity and sales, or by retailers looking to expand their product base. This is all good, assuming you don't object to alcoholic beverages on principle. I didn't become interested in cocktails until I was well into my fifties, but I wouldn't want it thought that I was encouraging young guys in their twenties to start drinking hard early in life. Consumption of alcoholic beverages isn't an art, or a profession, but designing them can be a diverting pastime. I've never thought I wanted to be a bartender, but I respect those who take up the profession seriously, and do their best to provide decent product, unadulterated and genuine. 

In any case, here are three new concoctions from the stainless steel counter, not filched from any book or online source, invented out of my own wayward imagination. Cheers!  

Key Lime Liqueur is a specialty which I suspect few mixologists use, given its particular cream base, which tends to overshadow other ingredients. Nevertheless, I find it very cooperative in conjunction with allied flavors, such as the St. Germaine (with its elderflower base). 

4 parts gin
1 part Key Lime Liqueur
1 part fresh lime juice
3/4 part St. Germaine liqueur
(shaken with served up)

This one is a take on the aquavit-apple constellation of flavor, and it seems to work very well. The fernet branca (or amaro) is counter-intuitive, as flavors can sometimes be. 

3 parts aged aquavit
2 parts apple liqueur
1/3 part fernet branca
1/3 part simple syrup
1 part sweet lime
(shaken and served up)

Here too the kirsch and St. Germaine are not familiar companions in mixed drinks I've seen, but they seem happily conversant. 

2 parts terroir St. George gin
2 part Italian dry vermouth
1 part kirsch
1/2 part St. Germaine liqueur
maraschino cherry
(shaken and served up)

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