Quick note: Don’t forget, this Monday, the 19th, is the roundup for MxMo LXVII: Garnish Grandiloquence. Please get have your submission ready by this Sunday night.
Today’s gastrophysics pairing is twofold; first, honey and cooked Parmesan, and second, strawberry and Parmesan. As with the Pineapple Under the Sea, the cheese here is entirely in the garnish, and the idea is that the aroma of the cheese should interact with the flavors in the drink. Parmesan is not quite as fragrant as blue cheese, unfortunately, so the effect was not as high-impact.
This drink may have been too ambitious. The name comes from the fact that the Parmesan wafer is intended to look like a full moon. Unfortunately, the wafer broke as we were extracting it from the vessel in which we made it. It is very easy to burn your Parmesan wafer, and it took us several tries in the oven before we got it mostly right. It is very important that you use parchment paper instead of wax paper when making these. Our process was to grate the Parmesan onto a sheet of parchment paper in a glass casserole dish and bake it in the oven at 350 for around 7 – 10 minutes. If you take it out when its golden brown, there is a high chance that you burned it slightly.
But Joseph, isn’t the garnish here golden brown? Hush, my child. In an earlier iteration of this drink, we had tried dizzling the wafer with balsamic vinegar, but (predictably), the aroma of the vinegar completely overpowered the cheese and ruined the aromatic effect of the garnish. As for the drink itself, it’s tasty enough, but a little one-dimensional. I wanted to make sure that the honey and strawberry were at the forefront of the drink, in order to emphasize the unusual flavor combination.
I was trying out a new sweet vermouth, the offering from Dolin, for this drink, and it just does not have the punch that I am used to in Carpano Antica or Punt e Mes. The unchallenging combination of strawberry, honey, and Brandy cries out for a very robust vermouth, whereas the Dolin is on the lighter side. For the honey flavor, we used Bärenjäger , which despite the copy of the Wikipedia entry, is surprisingly bitter for a honey liqueur. I enjoy this bitterness, and I would like it if someone would make a substantially more bitter version.
That’s No Moon!
1 oz Brandy (Cognac Salignac)
1 oz Fresh Strawberry Juice
.75 oz Honey Liqueur (Bärenjäger)
.25 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
Shake over ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Parmesan wafer, drizzled in honey.
The quality of Parmesan that matches honey and strawberry is its nuttiness. It almost reminded me of honey nut cheerios. I suggest rimming half of the glass with a little honey to serve as “glue”, and then using it to fix the Parmesan wafer to the glass. That way, the imbiber can drink while smelling the cheese without the risk of the garnish falling off. We did this, and it worked very well. As usual, aromatic bitters are the salt of the cocktail world, greatly needed to impart depth and completeness to the drink.
I swear, soon we’ll make some drinks that are normal… but not too normal.