Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mixology Monday LXX: Inverted

This month's Mixology Monday is hosted by Stuart over at Putney Farm. He wants us to think about the various ways that cocktails can be 'inverted'.

"We wondered if we could apply the same “inverted” approach to Mixology Monday and, at first, didn’t think it would work. But then we asked ourselves, what does “inverted” really mean? Well, here is the definition:

1 - To turn inside out or upside down 
2 - To reverse the position, order, or condition of

Hmm…it appears that the definition is pretty broad. It seems that “inverted” really just means something “flipped on its head”.  And that can mean almost anything, and leaves plenty of room for creativity. So we are going with the “inverted” theme. You can invert the ratios of spirits, liqueurs or bitters in a cocktail, but we suggest you go beyond that and “invert” whatever you want. Spirits, name, ingredients, proof, color, geography, garnish and glassware are all fair game. An apéritif made with Navy-Strength booze? Give it a try. A beer-based cocktail that tastes like champagne? Sure. A clear Manhattan? Worth a shot (and good luck with that). The only thing we expect is the unexpected. Have fun."

In trying to think about what to do with that, I went for a fairly straight-forward inversion: halve the liquor and double all of the other ingredients in a cocktail. The victim - the Vieux Carré

Carré Vieux
0.5 oz rye whiskey
0.5 oz cognac
2 oz sweet vermouth
0.5 oz Bénédictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Combine all ingredients, stir with ice for fifteen seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The nose has a very strong grape note from the vermouth and cognac. The bitters and Bénédictine peek out, but have a hard time holding their own. The sip begins rather sweetly, balanced between grapes from the vermouth and herbal sweetness from the Bénédictine. The cognac dominates mid-palate along with some citrus, slowly giving way to the various bitter ingredients. The finish is grape and chocolate.

The sweet vermouth becomes the center of gravity for the drink, around which the other ingredients can only orbit. While it's good, I feel like it highlights the logic behind the original. Even using a rather pungent vermouth like Punt e Mes, it still comes off as almost cloying, despite the extra bitters. I think this would actually make a nice aperitif-style drink if you cut the measurements in half and lightened it with soda water (the acidity would also help to neutralize some of the sweetness).

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