Measure & Stir

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Spring Quartet: The Perfect Blossom: Sake, Tea, Sakura

We finished off the Spring Quartet with a celebration of cherry blossoms. We made an opera cake consisting of white sponge soaked in pink syrup, cherry blossom-flavored butter cream, and cherry blossom-flavored white bean paste. That may sound odd if you are not used to the idea of beans in dessert, but it was beautifully in line with the theme, I assure you.

As before, this was a collaboration with Johan from Moedernkitchen.

Also pictured, though not recommended, was a mousse of soft tofu and cherry blossom honey. The mousse itself was delicious, but our decision to serve it with a paper straw inside of a painted egg left it with a musky, off note. Never serve anything in a goose egg.

Purely for decoration, we adorned some branches from a local cherry tree with little puffs of cotton candy.

Since cherry blossom has a subtle flavor, I wanted to stay true to its subtlety, and let it speak for itself. I prepared a lightly sweetened white tea, and stirred in some preserved cherry blossom powder. The powder is sweet, salty, and dusty pink.

This is another one of those preparations where your own good taste must be your guide. The flavor of the tea itself was softer, even, than the sake and the cherry blossom, so I steeped it to a richer extraction than I would if I were drinking it on its own. I then stirred in preserved cherry blossom powder and simple syrup according to my desire.

Cherry Blossom Tea
1 oz of high quality sake. I used a Junmai Daiginjo sake with delicate floral and mineral notes.
2 oz of white tea, seasoned with preserved cherry blossom
The tiniest dash of simple syrup.

The tea here was intended as a foil to the much richer cake that it accompanied. In concert with the other ingredients, it was a pleasant harmony. On its own, it might have been a bit lackluster.



Spring Quartet: Easter Bunny and Do You Even Carrot All? Mango, Habanero, Carrot, Rum

Hey guys, I’m a little behind in writing up my Spring Quartet, in which I collaborated with Johan at Moedernkitchen to create a four course meal called Spring Quartet: Voyagé to the Far Easter.

For the third course, we served a rabbit confit on a bed of mashed parsnips and caramelized onions, topped with a “melted carrot”.


I paired this with a drink of carrot, mango, and habanero juice, shaken with rum. For the mango juice, I sautéed a ripe mango in brown butter, and then juiced a second, raw mango, and blended the two together. This is a technique that is becoming old hat to measure and stir regulars, I am sure, although the brown butter is a bit of a twist.

For the carrot juice, I used the same raw+cooked formula, but I opted to sous vide the carrots at 85C for 20 minutes. Regarding the different cooking techniques, I had initially tried cooking the mango sous vide, but the brown butter flavor won out, adding a surprising richness. Unfortunately, it left behind some tiny butter particles in the final drink, which were not discernible on the palate, but which were visually unappealing.

In order to facilitate rapid service, I blended the mango, carrot, and habanero juice about an hour before our guests started arriving, and seasoned the juice with tartaric acid and simple syrup. I did not cook any of the habaneros. For my taste, I wanted the burn to be noticeable without being overly challenging to the imbiber.

I chose tartaric acid because neither mangos, nor carrots, nor habanero have a significant component of malic or citric acid. Tartaric acid is probably a flavor that you associate with sour candies such as pixie sticks or sour patch kids. On its own, the association is hard to avoid, but when mixed into juices or sauces it provides a clean, slightly chemical acidity that is a refreshing change of pace from other, more common culinary acids.

The motif of French meets Japanese fell apart a little bit in this dish. My original concept simply did not work with the meal, so this drink ended up being a bit of an improvisation. I used El Dorado Three as the base spirit of this drink, because the rum-mango-habanero connection was too tempting to avoid, and because I love Demerara rum. El Dorado Three is like Bacardi’s more sophisticated cousin.

Do You Even Carrot All?
2 oz Mango-Carrot Juice Blend (see above)
1.5 oz El Dorado 3
Shake over ice and strain into a small goblet. Garnish with candied carrot.

As with the Easy Peasy Matcha Crusta, I suggest blending the fresh juices in this drink to your taste, and then combining it with a standard measure of rum.

For the candied carrot, I used a y-peeler to cut long strips of peeled carrot, dipped them in a rich simple syrup, and baked them at 200F for about 30 minutes. While they were still hot and pliable, I used chopstick to curl them into spirals, and then allowed them to cool on a wire rack.