Tuesday, February 23, 2021

New Cocktails: the Apricot Sour

I've had this one bouncing around in my head for a few years ever since I picked up a bottle of Luxardo's apricot liqueur. Compared to something like Rothman & Winter, it leans more towards apricot pits than it does the fresh fruit. It immediately made me think of amaretto, which can be made from stone fruit pits.

That in turn made me think of Jeffery Morgenthaler's much-lauded Amaretto Sour recipe. I've taken a crack at the form once before with success, so I wondered if I could make it work again.

Apricot Sour

1.5 oz apricot liqueur
0.75 oz Laird's bonded applejack
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp rich simple syrup

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice, then strain into a rocks glass over ice.

The aromas are dominated by nutty notes from the apricot liqueur, accented by spices from the apple brandy. The sip opens with apricot and apple sweetness, tempered by the heat of the Lairds, dives through some gentle oak in the middle, then fading out through sweet lemon. The finish is bittersweet lemon and apricot with gentle spices.

Dang, that is a good drink. I had a feeling that it was going to work out if I stuck with Morgenthaler's ratios, but I wasn't entirely sure what high proof spirit to use to keep things in check. Laird's is on the woody side for an apple brandy, so the oak helps to keep this from becoming cloying. In addition the apple notes blend naturally with the apricot, which I'm not sure grain based spirits would have worked as well. While it would be interesting to try this drink with other apricot liqueurs, I think Luxardo works well here since it is a little more multifaceted than more straightforward varieties.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

New Cocktails: Don's Daiquiri

Looking over Don the Beachcomber's ouvre, one of his most common touches was the combination of a dash of Angostura bitters with half a dozen drops of absinthe or pastis. While rarely assertive, they always make for a pleasant accent. Last summer I wondered if it had ever been applied to the basic daiquiri formula. While I've searched long and hard for another name for this drink, I've never been able to find anything with the same specs. The closest is the Rum Club Daiquiri, though that takes it in a different direction.

Don's Daiquiri

1.5 oz white rum (I used Hamilton White Stache)
0.5 oz blanc rhum agricole
0.5 oz lime juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
6 drops of absinthe/pastis

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice, then double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The aromas have a good fruity/grassy balance between the rums, plus a touch of Angostura bitters. The sip is very fruity up front, moving into grassy notes in the middle, then faint licorice with a sweet lime fade out. The finish has sweet lime, a touch of bitters and grass, and lingering anise.

This is just lovely. As hoped, it's a nice twist on the basic formula. The rums played well with each other, providing a solid foundation for the gentle accents. While it doesn't have the flourishes of a full-on tiki drink, I appreciate the way it nods at the broader realm while staying firmly in the realm of the classics.

Friday, February 5, 2021

New Cocktails: the Improved Amargo Cocktail

I realized a while ago that it has been a long time since I last had a tequila cocktail. I also recently purchased a bottle of Sfumato and had been looking for something to do with it. Making a guess that I could slot it into a drink that called for Campari, I went poking around until I found the Amargo Cocktail, which comes from the Wisconsin restaurant Harvest. While I was a little skeptical of something so citrus-heavy without any sweeteners beyond the Campari, I was willing to give it a shot.

Improved Amargo Cocktail

0.75 oz tequila (preferably blanco)
0.25 oz mezcal
1 oz Sfumato
0.5 oz lime juice
2 oz grapefruit juice
0.25 oz apricot liqueur

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice, then double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The nose is driven by the smoky/fruity notes of the Sfumato, with a little mezcal poking out. The sip begins fairly tart with some balancing sweetness, flashes through some berries/fruit, dives into the Sfumato and mezcal smoke in the middle, then shifts into bittersweet near the back. The finish is tart and gently bitter, with a little herbal complexity.

I tried this without the apricot liqueur first and found it far too tart. The apricot liqueur rounds off the sharper edges without making itself particularly present in the overall profile, which is what I was looking for. With that said, I really like the way this drink evolves. I takes a lot of pretty strong flavors and manages to showcase them in turn rather than throwing them at your taste buds all at once. Overall, very enjoyable.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Classic Cocktails: Reverse Perfect El Presidente

I've enjoyed the classic El Presidente before and was inspired to give it the reverse perfect treatment when I saw it come up on a list of blanc vermouth cocktails from Imbibe. While my original version was all dry vermouth and called for a larger slug of orange liqueur, this version was able to reduce it by adding in some sweeter blanc vermouth instead of just dry.
Reverse Perfect El Presidente
1 oz blanc vermouth
1 oz dry vermouth
0.5 rum (I split it between blanc agricole and a rounder molasses based rum)
1 tsp orange liqueur
1 tstp raspberry syrup
Combine all ingredients, stir with ice for fifteen seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The aromas are heady with vermouth inflected with raspberry, orange, and rum. The flavors open with vermouth and rum sweetness, shifts to big berry notes in the middle, then slides into pleasant orange bitterness at the back. The finish is bittersweet, fruity, and has a touch of grassy cane.

Dang, this is really, really good. There's a lot of complexity and no one ingredient overwhelms any other. Using flavorful rums (in this case Rhum J.M. 110 and Hamilton White Stache) does help to keep them from getting lost, so it's still clearly a rum-based drink. If you're not a fan of dry vermouth (looking at you, RumDood) I think you could use all blanc and keep it in balance by adding a dash of orange bitters. But whatever direction you choose to take it in, this continues to solidify my faith in the reverse perfect formula. This just keeps producing great drinks.