Measure & Stir

A Craft Cocktail Blog for the Home Bartender that Focuses on Original Creations Drawn from Culinary Inspiration.


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MxMo LXVII: Garnish Grandiloquence: A Study in Garnishing with Cheese


If you were reading last week, you might have noticed that three out of five of our drinks featured cheese in the garnish. This was no coincidence, but rather a deliberate study using cheese as an ingredient in a mixed drink. I do not have a whole lot to add to the content of those posts, but I will note that while I think cheese can be an effective garnish, it is a positively disgusting ingredient to actually mix into a drink. Do you want to drink alcohol broccoli cheddar soup? Me neither.

Ultimately, I think would prefer to have a good cocktail, and cheese on the side, rather than try to mash them together into some kind of unholy Frankendrink. Speaking of which, all of the drinks in this post use flavor pairings suggested by molecular gastronomists, who analyze the chemical makeup of varios foods’ aromas, and use similarity as a basis to suggest novel combinations. Anyway, these are my creations:

Pineapple Under the Sea
We used kefir yoghurt to try to bridge the distance between pineapple and gin, on the one hand, and blue cheese, on the other. As the imbiber takes a sip of the drink, the smell of blue cheese fills the nostrils, creating a surprising synergy with the pineapple juice. Kefir is a fickle beast, as a cocktail ingredient, but the pineapple tames it nicely.

Rainy Day
You could almost call black tea, tomato, and grilled cheese a rainy day survival kit. We clarified fresh heirloom tomato juice using a coffee filter, and paired it with earl grey-infused Pisco. Savory drinks are hard to love, but the tannin in the black tea went very well with the tomato’s umami notes. Unlike in the Pineapple Under the Sea, you couldn’t really smell the cheese in the garnish, but it was still a tasty snack.


That’s No Moon!
The strength of the cheese in this drink was somewhere in the middle between the other two, with the cooked Parmesan contributing a subtle aroma to bolster the flavors of strawberry and honey. This was the weakest drink of the trio, and even though the nuttiness of the cheese matched well with the flavor of the honey, it left something to be desired. Actually eating the Parmesan wafer was pleasant. We used honey to “glue” the wafer to the glass, so that even though it appears to be resting precariously on the rim, it was in reality quite sturdy.


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Pineapple Under the Sea: Gin, Kefir, Pineapple, and Blue Cheese

Throughout the week we’ve been using the power of science to pair together two ingredients which at first may sound unusual when combined, but are in fact delicious together. Today’s flavor combo is pineapple and blue cheese.

Pineapple Under the Sea
1.5 oz Gin
.75 oz Kefir
.75 oz Pineapple juice
.75 oz Cocchi Americano

Shake it over ice and strain it into a cocktail goblet. Garnish the drink with skewered blue cheese.

OK so admittedly the blue cheese is the garnish, but this drink simply would not be the same without it. Besides, c’mon. Drinking blue cheese is just nasty. Trust us, we tried it.

The amazing thing about this drink is that it comes as a two part experience. The garnish plays a crucial role as you discover while raising the glass to sip the drink, and your nose is filled with the aroma of blue cheese. As you sip, your mouth is greeted by mellowed pineapple, and the two sensations combine to create an intriguing taste, which is the first half of this drink.

Blue cheese and pineapple taste great together because they both contain a chemical called methyl hexanoate, which we detect using our mouth and nose, and which you would describe as “fruitiness”, “sweetness”, and “freshness”. Of course, blue cheese also has its own funk, but strangely, it fits in with the other flavors nicely. The kefir gives the drink a slightly higher-than-usual viscosity, and is slightly sour itself, which perhaps creates an artificial sensation of blue cheese in your mouth.

The second half is experienced as you set the glass down and swallow the drink. The absence of the blue cheese’s aroma allows room for your palate to appreciate the tangy yet sweet mellowness of the kefir and the pineapple. Gin always pairs nicely with pineapple. Cocchi Americano lends the drink its dryness, and its notes of gentian and cinchona give this mellow drink a slightly bitter edge. It is worth noting that white wine also contains methyl hexanoate, which is why we chose to use a white aperitif wine. Mainly you’ll be astonished by how different the drink is without the aroma of blue cheese.

Bottoms up!