Jun 20, 201309:18 AM
All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans
Seasonally Sweet Cocktails, Plus a Wine Event
We all have different tolerances for certain spices and flavorings. Surely around here you know someone who puts hot sauce on everything except a Snickers Bar. Or maybe you know someone who even does that. Would not surprise me.
Then there are the folks who add salt and pepper to every dish before they even taste it. Or ladle spoonfuls of sugar into their tea or coffee. I can more understand this since you pretty much know what tea or coffee is like when it is served, and you know what you like, so getting to the “happy point” is easy.
Cocktails are a bit more problematic. Any mixologist worth his/her muddler will tell you that balance is key to a well-crafted cocktail. And then off they go, slapdash adding six or seven ingredients, without the benefit of measuring, putting in tinctures and liqueurs, along with rum, tossing it all in a shaker, then serving it to you with a rimming of sugar or salt.
Balance?? Are you kidding me? Nothing could be further from the actual experience. You are either puckering from sweetness or sour, after plowing through a veritable field of greenery stuck into the liquid, and not knowing whether to add the lime garnish or just suck on it for a more pleasant citrus flavor. Not to mention you just paid $14 for a glass that is 70 percent ice.
Okay, not all bar folks do such things, thankfully, but enough do to make ordering a cocktail sometimes a very dicey experience.
One of the surest ways to get a sweet drink, if those are your desires (and please note I am making no judgments one way or the other. You’re welcome), doing a main-line to sugar ingestion, is to order a cocktail that contains fresh fruit. We are fortunate this time of year to be blessed with so many. Strawberries, peaches, watermelon and cantaloupe are just a few of the precious beauties at their peak right now which can be paired with distilled spirits.
But here’s the warning shot across your bow: many spirits and additives, particularly rum and sweet liqueurs, are sugar-based. If you keep adding sugar-based spirits on top of fruit, you are going to end up with something quite, well, sweet. When you request a drink made with fresh fruit, pull back on other sugar-based ingredients, or offset the sugar flavors with citrus flavors.
That advice may seem unnecessary, but you would be surprised how many people who really love sugar take a sip of something truly beautiful only to pull back and cough out a “I don’t think I like it” response. Pretty colors in a drink are almost always a sign of sugars. Fresh fruit is appealing for the same reason, sugars.
Before you get the idea that I am anti-sugar, which I am not most certainly, however I am against drinks that are not balanced. Anything where one or two ingredients are out of whack, even when it comes to alcohol or citrus, is not going to be a good drink. Why else do we get involved with such intricate construction of a cocktail if it’s not going to be good (read: in balance)?
To test your adherence to the theory of balance, below are several recipes for cocktails that use as a base that sweet summertime treat, watermelon. By tasting the ingredients in each drink, and altering the quantities to suit your preferences, which you may not even know, you can hit upon those flavors that make you smile at the final version.
Watermelon Gin Fizz
Serves 4 Courtesy: Eating Well, 2012
5 cups diced watermelon, seeds removed
6 cups London Gin
8 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/3 cups ginger ale
Lime wedges to garnish
Freeze 1 cup of watermelon for use as garnish. Puree remaining 1 cups of watermelon. Strain, then pour equal amounts into 4 glasses. Top each glass with 1½ ounces of gin, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1/3 cup ginger ale. Stir. Add frozen watermelon wedge into drink and lime wedge on glass rim.
Watermelon-Basil Bramble Cocktail
Serves 1 Courtesy: A Spicy Perspective, 2012
2 ounces London Gin
1 ounce fresh lime juice
½ to 1 ounce simple syrup, to taste
2 chunks watermelon
2 chopped basil leaves
Pinch of salt
Cut the watermelon into 1 1/2 inch chunks. Place the watermelon, basil and salt in a cocktail shaker. Muddle until well smashed and soupy. Add the gin, lime juice and simple syrup. Fill with ice, place the lid on the shaker and shake well, 30 seconds or so. Pour into a glass and garnish with extra watermelon and basil.
While we are on the subject of drink recipes, let’s send out a hearty CONGRATULATIONS to Jeanette Condon, manager, Allegro Bistro, and Scot Mattox, Iris Restaurant, two talented New Orleanians just announced as finalists in the Disaronno Mixing Star mixologist competition.
They now move on to the next level of competition to be held at the upcoming Tales of the Cocktail, July 17-21, to compete for a trip to Venice, Italy during the Venice Film Festival. These two talents should have a good chance to head to Venice since the final judging will take place in their home town.
Jeanette created the drink, Gypsy Rose Lee, inspired by the movie, Gypsy.
Gypsy Rose Lee
1 ounce Disaronno
1 ounce Cranberry Juice
1 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
3 ounces Prosecco
Put all in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake. Spray the glass with rose water. Strain the shaker into the glass and top with Prosecco. Garnish with a rose petal.
Scot created Q’s Negroni, a tribute to the James Bond films.
1.5 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
.75 ounce Disaronno
.75 ounce Campari
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters
Orange peel garnish
Stir ingredients in a mixing glass. Strain onto fresh ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish.
A Summer Wine Event Not To Be Missed
"Summer in Provence" is coming up on Saturday, June 29, at The Shops at Canal Place. Presented by the Gulf Coast Chapter of the French American Chamber of Commerce, there will be lots of food, wine, live music and a silent auction. Should be a good time. Visit the website for more info.