Measure & Stir

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


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Acid Trip #2: Kyoho Grape, Lavender

 

I spoke yesterday of malic acid, and also of Kyoho grapes. Moreover, I have written in the past of the inspiration that I found at bar Gen Yamamoto, which informed an apricot cocktail earlier this summer. In that post, I described the philosophical underpinnings of this drink.

I wanted to apply Gen’s “shiki” style of Japanese seasonality to the Kyoho grape, so I started with brandy as a base to preserve the purity of the grape’s flavor. We can add a bit of drama to this otherwise harmonious pairing by playing up the contrast between sweet and sour. I would not make such an attempt with standard souring agents, but since malic acid is already present in the grape, the additional tartness feels very natural and flowing.

grapeAcidTrip

Acid Trip #2
1 oz Brandy (Cognac Salignac)
.5 oz Vodka (Tito’s)
8 Kyoho grapes, muddled
2 Dashes Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
1 Dash of Simple Syrup
1/8 Tsp Powdered Malic Acid
Shake and double strain into an Old Fashioned Glass. Garnish with a grape.

The grape on its own was a little too simple. With the brandy tracking so closely to the grape juice, I needed one other flavor to create some space and some distance in the perception of the drink’s flavor, and lavender worked surprisingly well. I did not anticipate the deliciousness of this pairing, and I was pleasantly surprised. Lavender and grape were made for each other, and I imagine that lavender grape preserves would be wonderful.

I think this drink beautifully captured the experience of a fresh grape, while maintaining a refined complexity.

Cheers.


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MxMo LXXVI: Fire!

Since I’m officially doing the whole blog thing again, I am participating in Mixology Monday, hosted this month by Muse of Doom at Feu de Vie. The theme this month is “Fire”, so I decided to do a video post. I haven’t done one of these before, and to be honest, I’m a little self-conscious. Hopefully it’s cool.

Lavender-Smoked Martini
1.5 oz Lavender-infused gin (Beefeater)
.75 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
Dash of lemon juice
Dash of simple syrup
Light a teaspoon of lavender on fire and then place a large glass over the smoldering flowers, so that it fills with smoke. Stir the drink and then strain it into the smoke-filled glass.

Big thanks to Muse of Doom for this hosting MxMo with this exciting theme.


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Lavender Gin, Grapefruit, Toasted Cardamom, Orange

 

 

Ever since I made that lavender-infused gin, I’ve been wanting to do something a little more interesting than just a gin fix. I stand by that drink, but the lavender drink that my heart truly craves contains cardamom, and a subtle bitterness. If you’ve been following my recently you know I’m on a bit of an oleo saccharum binge, but I’m pretty sure this will be the last one for a while, unless I host a party. I’ve made a couple of “plain” oleo sacchara, consisting of only a citrus peel and sugar, but I’ve been much more pleased when I used herbs or spices to flavor the syrup, as well.

For this drink, I toasted cardamom pods in a pan before crushing them with grapefruit peels saturated in sugar. The cardamom flavor was mild, but present, and the grapefruit oil provided a beautiful bitterness. Both flavors were ideal for the strong lavender scent of my infused gin. The orange juice was more of an afterthought; Gin and syrup might be a decent old fashioned, but I wanted something a little bit longer, and not sour, and not a new-wave martini with syrup. Orange juice was the only logical choice, but it stayed in the background in this drink, keeping out of the way of the citrus, spice, and botanicals.

Cardamom is among my favorite flavors in the whole world; it occupies a space that also includes lavender and bergamot, that is why I chose this pairing. When combining flavors, it is often ideal that they should have an element in common. If two ingredients are too similar to each other, then the flavor profile will smear, and the drink won’t “pop”. Conversely, if two flavors are completely dissimilar, they will sit side by side, but do nothing to enhance each other. The best synergies come when two flavors have something in common, but not everything. A good example is sweet vermouth and orange; there are notes of orange peel in most sweet vermouths, but the vermouth also has flavors of wine and herbs. For this reason, orange juice, bitters, or liqueur will match it very well.

I did not garnish this drink, because the gin and the syrup were so fragrant already, but as a result, the picture is kind of lackluster:

Fine Dime Brizzle
1 Grapefruit Worth of Oleo Saccharum, made with Toasted Cardamom
1 oz Lavender-Infused Gin,
1 oz Orange Juice
Shake over ice and double-strain into a tumbler.

I already made a drink based on a Kanye West lyric, so I decided to name this drink after a line in Snoop Dogg’s best song, let’s be honest, Gin and Juice. And sure enough, this roughly equal parts recipe contains both gin and juice, albeit highly modified. It made for a very classy, or possibly a very pretentious gin and juice, so I thought it seemed appropriate. When I looked up “Fine Dime Brizzle” on urban dictionary, it was anything but classy, but I still like it.

Moreover,  I apologize for not having an exact measurement on the oleo saccharum, but if you strip all the peel off of a large grapefruit and then saturate it in sugar, you’ll come out pretty close. If you feel like there is way more sugar than you want, just add the syrup a little at a time, and taste it to make sure you have the ratio right.


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Lavender-Infused Gin

I found a bundle of fresh Lavender at Trader Joe’s last week, and I was struck by inspiration! Lavender is one of my favorite flavors, and when I first was getting into mixology, I tried twice to create a lavender-centric drink by making lavender syrup from fresh lavender. Oh, how foolish I was! I have since learned the rules about how to capture various flavors for use in drinks.

  • If a reagent’s primary experience is as an aroma, the best way to extract it is in alcohol, i.e., by making an infusion.
  • If a reagent is small on aroma but big on flavor, the best way to extract it is by simmering it in sugar and water, and making a syrup.
  • If a reagent is has both a strong flavor and a strong smell, it is best to make a liqueur by performing both extractions, and blending them together.

I can’t remember where I learned this, but it was in a discussion of Buddha’s Hand, a citrus fruit with a very light flavor, but a powerful fragrance. When I saw the lavender, I realized it was my chance to redeem myself, and I took it straight home and infused it into some Beefeater gin. Most infusions take a week or more, but there are some ingredients, such as black tea, which take only a few hours, or even less.

Lavender proved to be on the quicker end of the extraction curve, becoming noticeable in the gin after only five hours, and becoming truly salient after about ten. I left it for closer to sixteen, and that was perhaps too long. Let this be a lesson to you, to always check your infusions. Fortunately, when you make the mistake of over-infusing, it’s easy to recover; just blend some of the un-infused spirit with the infused one, until the flavor is right. I added some plain Beefeater in small increments until the flavor of the lavender was in proper balance with the botanicals in the gin.

My friend James was present for the debut of this infusion, and he had the brilliant suggestion to make a Gin fix using honey syrup. The lavender flavor I had sought two years prior was perfectly expressed in this drink, and I can say this, because I have not had very many lavender drinks, that this was the best lavender mixed drink I have ever had.

Lavender Gin Fix
1.5 oz Lavender-Infused Gin (Beefeater)
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Honey Syrup

Shake over ice, double-strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a sprig of lavender.

This is the standard formula for a fix or a sour, with lavender gin and honey syrup plugged in the appropriate slots. Honey on it’s own is quite floral, which is why it works so well with lavender.

Moving on, I was in a more experimental mood, and I wanted to see what would happen if I combined a variety of floral ingredients. I do not recommend making the next one, but I think it was instructive, and we can all learn something from it, hopefully.

Drink All The Flowers (version 0)
1.5 oz Lavender-Infused Gin (Beefeater)
.5 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
.25 oz Violet Syrup
.25 oz Rose Syrup
.
25 oz Elderflower Liqueur (Pur Likor)
.25 oz Acid Phosphate
Stir over ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lavender sprig.
The dye in the rose and violet syrups made this drink a deep garnet color, as you can see. Even with the acid phosphate, which is a dry, flavorless chemical sold by Art of Drink, this was much sweeter than I usually prefer. That was to be expected, on account of all the syrups, but it caused me to drink it very slowly, and I got to see what happened after it warmed up a bit.
When the drink was cold, it had a nice balance between the lavender, the rose, and the violet. As it got a bit warmer, the elderflower became more manifest, and the syrups really started to overtake the base spirit. The violet syrup was much too powerful for the other ingredients, and the elderflower did not belong. I did not feel compelled to mix a second one, but if I did, I would do it like this:
Drink All The Flowers (version 0.5)
1.5 oz Lavender-Infused Gin (Beefeater)
.5 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
.25 oz Rose Syrup
.25 oz Acid Phosphate
1 dash of Violet Syrup
Stir over ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lavender sprig.
Cheers.