I have lovely, lovely friends. Sometimes, these friends go places, and sometimes, they ask if I want them to pick me up anything while they’re away. This is how my cousin wound up making her way through customs with half a suitcase full of liquor last weekend.
Let me backtrack a bit, and tell you of my two-year-long hunt for Art in the Age’s RHUBARB Tea spirit. I started expanding my collection a few years back, and I had come across RHUBY (as it was called at the time) in a few recipes that sounded absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, not only can we not get it in Canada, but it was making itself scarce on the west coast in general (at least when I looked – multiple times – in Seattle, or when my lovely parents tried hunting it down in California for me). So when M asked if I wanted her to check for anything in Chicago while she was at a conference, you can guess what was first on my list. She went on her own (extensive) hunt, and lo, it was found, and it was bought, and now I have it. Bliss! I also got her to bring me back some local stuff to play with, along with a bottle of Ransom Old Tom Gin (because, again, Canada).
While I had oodles of plans for the RHUBARB Tea, it was one of the locals – an herbal liqueur called hum – that got pulled first. It’s a ‘botanical spirit’, a blend of hibiscus, ginger, cardamom and kaffir lime that clocks in at 70 proof, and it’s just…interesting. And tasty. This past Sunday, we helped M move, and I took delivery of the precious cargo (and let’s not talk about duty and BC liquor taxes, k?). As we all wound down at the end of the day, I achieved the level of mild-buzz where I’m prone to experiment*. This is what came from it, and damn…you should try it too – tis easy, breezy, and beautifully bittersweet:
- 2 oz Tanqueray Rangpur Lime (or any citrus-y gin)
- 1 oz hum liqueur
- 2 oz Whistler Kalamansi Lime Cordial (or make your own lime syrup – I like the cold-pressed method here)
- 1 dropper-full of The Bitter End Moroccan Bitters (swap as you like, with a nose to the Hum notes)
Add all ingredients (except soda) in a glass with ice. Stir to combine, and top with soda.
* Call it performance anxiety, but I’m too chicken to go off script when I’m stone-cold sober. All of my ‘from scratch’ recipes come from a place of just-tipsy-enough-to-be-brave. I’m sure I’ll outgrow that…
Ah, egg whites. I like you quite a bit. In omelettes, where I can pretend you’re more healthy and thus add five times the amount of cheese (doric feta ftw!). In meringues, where you get all crunchy and chewy and oh-my-god-delicious. And, of course, in cocktails, where you make drinks downright velvety. Now that you and I understand your particularly special needs in said cocktails, can we be friends?
After my comparable success with the Clover Club, I was left with almost half a carton of eggs. Though we circumvented the quick corruption our fridge normally exacts (Alex sealed the carton in a ziploc), fresh is only fresh for so long. So I decided I’d start out with another drink that I have repeatedly failed at. Because that’s always a solid idea, no?
Shortly after our first dinner at Hawksworth, back when they opened, I made Alex promise to beg the recipe for the Hotel Georgia cocktail from the bar manager next time he saw him. He, being a good man, brought it home to me in no time at all. So I tried it, and…it was awful. Things I didn’t know at the time: the importance of dry shaking, the importance of fresh lemon juice, the importance of fresh eggs, the importance of double straining. Did I mention that I spent my very brief time as a bartender pulling pints and mixing highballs and appletinis? I didn’t exactly have the best knowledge base.
Since I had had similar challenges with the Clover Club, I figured I could give it another shot while my luck was good. I put it all together with crossed toes (crossed fingers don’t give the best grip on the shaker), and poured. And tasted. And had Alex taste to make sure it wasn’t just my own wishful thinking. But turns out, it was damn good!
The Hotel Georgia
- 1.75 oz. gin (they use Plymouth)
- .5 oz. orgeat
- .75 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 6 drops of orange water (I like that measurement, straight from the aforementioned article – so delicate-sounding!)
- 1 fresh egg white
- nutmeg for garnish
Combine everything but the nutmeg in a shaker, and give it a dry shake (no ice) for about 20 seconds, until you feel the mixture change consistency (should feel less sloshy, a little smoother). Add ice, shake again just to chill. Pour everything into a chilled cocktail glass. Grate/sprinkle nutmeg to garnish.
So then, since I figured that that went pretty well, I might as well ride my luck a little longer. I pulled up another recipe that’s been languishing on my list while I’ve been moping about egg whites. May I present, the Filibuster!
If the name alone doesn’t make you want to give it a shot, consider this: you probably have everything you need already sitting in your fridge. And I’ll say this: this pretty thing exceeded my expectations. Alex tried it, and we agreed the balance of it made me seem far more skilled than I really am.
- 1.5 oz. bourbon
- .75 oz. fresh lemon juice
- .25 oz. maple syrup
- dash black walnut bitters (my substitution – recipe calls for Angostura)
- 1 large fresh egg white
Same method as the Hotel Georgia. Everything goes in for a dry shake until the consistency changes (~20-30 seconds). Add ice, shake again to chill. Pour into your cocktail glass, and garnish with a slip of lemon (which looks oh-so-pretty against the foam). I’ll note, I had to dump my first attempt as I made the dumb mistake of separating my egg over the shaker. So don’t do that.
A while back, Alex made a rosemary panna cotta with salted caramel. My brother, as I mentioned in a previous post, is not as much of a fan of said herb. He likens it to eating trees. Now, me, I like that idea – trees taste yummy. Think gin!
Which brings us to today’s first rosemary cocktail*. I spied this Rosemary Gin Fizz a few months back, but it got shuffled lower in my to-do list due to the accompanying write-up identifying it as a Christmas season cocktail. Silly me.
The recipe itself was a little sweet for me, even though I shorted the soda. I want to play around with it a bit, see if another mix plays better. Still, it’s tasty, and certainly worth a try. Nice, very refreshing and certainly suitable for summertime sipping and Christmas parties alike.
- 2 oz. gin – I used Victoria Gin to work with the herbal notes, but a London dry variety would be nice, too
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice
- 0.5 oz rosemary syrup
- club soda
- a rosemary sprig for a garnish
Fill a high-ball glass half-full with ice, pour over the first three ingredients. Stir, then top with the soda and garnish with the rosemary. The fresh sprig gives a lovely herbal scent when you’re drinking, so don’t skip that part. Play around with the ratios to suit your taste – it’s a pretty flexible mix.
Next, a pretty simple variation on a classic: a rosemary gimlet. The gimlet’s my go-to drink. Even when I only drank vodka, it was a standard order. Simple, tasty and well-balanced. So why not play with it?
I started with the ratios from Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Richmond Gimlet, but instead of simple syrup and a mint sprig, I swapped in the aforementioned rosemary syrup. I’d still like to try that original recipe when I’ve got some mint handy, but this one turned out nicely enough. I tweaked a couple of things to adjust for the ingredients on-hand, so here’s the mix I ended up liking:
- 2 oz. dry gin (I used Plymouth)
- .75 oz. fresh lime juice
- .75 oz rosemary syrup
Add all the ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for those lovely ice shards, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
*Yes, I know it’s not technically a cocktail unless it’s spirits, sugar, water and bitters. But let’s not be pedantic, eh?
Despite it’s decidedly ladylike aesthetic, the Clover Club takes its name from a pre-prohibition Philadelphia gentleman’s club. A time before egg whites were an issue. For that matter, a time when men weren’t afraid of the colour pink. Interesting note here:
“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” (from a 1918 merchandising publication, referenced in a Smithsonian article on gender and colour)
So there. Pink drinks for all!
My history with the drink is a little messier. Literally. I’m a fan of asking bartenders to make me whatever they want – it’s only bitten me in the ass a few times (usually when I forget to mention my dislike for absinthe*, or my bare tolerance of Campari). I do apologize if you’re a bartender and this annoys you. I’ll specify if you tell me to. But otherwise, a great place to do this is at Pourhouse. Their cocktail list is lovely, but it barely scratches the surface of their repertoire. Give ’em free reign, and they introduce you to beautiful beasties like the Clover Club.
After downing it there, I decided I had to make it. I hadn’t really done much with egg whites before, but hey – how hard could it be? Well, hard. Very. Particularly if you’re chatting and not taking the whole thing seriously. Egg white, everywhere. The top blew off my shaker (which I obviously wasn’t holding on to all that well), and the mixture sprayed all over the kitchen. And me. And the cat. Cats. Kind of put a damper on things.
Fast-forward to the raspberries discussed here. I had to give it another shot. But this time, I did my research. I read about a dozen different methods, all with their own ratios. I read up on the best way to get an egg white emulsion in a cocktail. I held the top of the shaker on really tightly. And I came up with this:
I played around a bunch, so this doesn’t quite resemble any of the recipes I found, and owes most of it’s modest success to a conversation I had in passing about dry shaking.
The Clover Club
- 2 oz. gin
- 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 0.5 – 0.75 oz. raspberry syrup (less if you’re using a dry gin, more if you need to stand up to a citrusy one)
- 1 large egg white
Combine your gin, lemon juice, egg white and raspberry syrup in a shaker. Put the lid on and shake the hell out of it for about 30 seconds – particularly important, as this is what’ll get the egg emulsified, which gives you that nice foamy head. Add ice and give it another, less vigorous shake to chill it, then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish, if you so choose, with raspberries on a cocktail pick (or a chopped off skewer…), which the less elegant of us might use to scoop up the remaining foamy bits at the end.
I started with less syrup the first time ’round, but I found I wanted the raspberry to be a little more assertive against the citrus. If I were to remake it with a dry gin, I think the original ratio would work nicely. In the end, it’s the egg white and tart raspberry syrup that come together to make this drink more interesting than expected. All nice and velvety. Especially good when in the glass, not all over your favourite cardigan.
*My single absinthe exception (to prove the rule) so far is in a really, really well made Corpse Reviver No.2