Happy Halloween! I wanted to use the scariest ingredient I could think of to make this drink, so I chose Campari, because although it does not scare me, many people seem to be averse to it. I personally enjoy challenging ingredients; I see them as new territories to conquer. James and I had a meal at a Seattle restaurant called Altura, where they served us an aperitif consisting of blood orange juice, carrot juice, and Campari in a miniature hurricane glass. It was only a taste, but the flavor of carrot and Campari paired surprisingly well. Perhaps it should not have been a surprise, as Campari contains the flavor of bitter orange peels, and carrot orange juice is a classic Moroccan combination, with a bit of ginger.
For holidays, I always like to do something a little bit special (just wait til Thanksgiving, wherein I will garnish a drink with a whole roast turkey…maybe), and James and I had been tossing around the idea of using a gourd as a serving vessel for a while. A raw gourd has sour, savory, and vegetal notes, and we were worried that it might strike a dissonant chord with a mixed drink if we used it as a vessel. The realization that made this whole thing come together was that the flavor of carrot juice could work as a bridge between the gourd vessel and the other flavors in the drink, provided that they mixed well with carrot.
The Gourd vessel itself was unexpectedly resilient. We were sure it was going to leak, but through artful placement of bamboo skewers, we managed to build a chalice that was thoroughly seaworthy. After that, the hardest part of making this drink was coming up with a suitable pun. Names that did not make the cut:
- The Gourd, the Bad, and the Ugly
- Oh My Gourd!
- Gourd with the Wind
- Here Today, Gourd Tomorrow
- Gourd out of my Mind
- Gourds and Ghoblins
- Casper the Friendly Gourd
2 oz Carrot Juice
1.5 oz Bourbon (Evan Williams)
.75 oz Campari
.5 oz Cinnamon Syrup
Dash of Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)
Shake over ice and double-strain into a chalice made out of a freaking gourd. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a sense of accomplishment.
As with many fresh juices, carrot juice has a mild flavor, easily overpowered by the more robust qualities of common cocktail ingredients. I had to add a full two ounces before it could stand up to the bourbon and cinnamon syrup. The quantity of Campari in this was also counter-intuitive, but when you are creating a cocktail, the rule is add a little bit, taste, add a little bit, taste. It’s a process that won’t always take you to the place you expect.