Friday, November 30, 2012

Cocktail Whisperer's Crusta

By Warren Bobrow

1800's New Orleans was a rough and tumble place. Powerful intoxicants led to ruffian behavior. Not much has changed to this date down in Old New Orleans. There is something about the heat and the humidity that makes drinking heavy liquors very challenging.

The Brandy Crusta cocktail is one drink that actually is so enticing that you may find yourself slurping down this combination of flavors far too quickly. But isn't that the basic idea? I don't recommend turning into a street ruffian, but if you drink too many Crusta cocktails, anything is possible!

The Brandy Crusta cocktail is a combination of flavors inherent to the European continent. It is a permutation of ingredients such as Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur and Combier Liqueur d'Orange. I can picture this cocktail in my hand, a refreshing blend of engaging to tart to congenial.

The cocktail would be prepared in a method very near and dear to my heart, with exact measurements.  The final garnish would be a spiral of grapefruit because I find the traditional method of spiraling a lemon too acidic with the addition of lemon juice in the cocktail.

From DrinkUpNY, this is the classic version of the Crusta…

Brandy Crusta

This cocktail was developed in mid-19th century New Orleans, and has since inspired a wide range of modern creations. It presents a delicious balance of sweet and sour, and the base spirit really shines through. Therefore, we recommend one of our entry-level favorites, Pierre Ferrand Ambre.

1.5 oz. Pierre Ferrand Ambre 10 Year Old Cognac
.25 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
.25 oz. Combier Liqueur d'Orange
.25 oz. Fresh lemon juice

Moisten the rim of a cocktail glass with lemon, and rim with sugar. Build ingredients with ice and shake. Strain in to a cocktail glass and garnish with a spiral of lemon around inside of the glass.

I love to shake up this cocktail by doing an Absinthe wash. But what is an Absinthe wash? You literally wash out the inside of the cocktail glass with Absinthe, ice and water - before the other ingredients enter the glass. There is something about Absinthe when mixed with the other flavors that makes this drink even more mysterious.

The flavor profiles of each ingredient is as follows:

Pierre Ferrand Ambre: Toasty hazelnut fire gives way to caramel and fleur du sel on the front of the tongue, sweet vanilla on the back of the tongue carries through to and notes of white flowers and bittersweet cocoa continue on and on. This is a fine "beginner" Cognac or a "cellar defender" as well. You may want to pour this into your snifter and flame an orange zest over the top into your glass. Just be careful that you don't catch the other spirits on fire!

Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur: This is not your red thing in a jar maraschino cherry liqueur. It is the result of careful aging and a secret blend of spices to reveal the hidden aromatics of these tiny Italian fruits. Luxardo is also known for their brandied cherries. This is a similar flavor but with added zip. It makes a marvelous cocktail ingredient in a Gin Fizz or simply in a glass with seltzer water and lime.

Combier Liqueur d'Orange: If you are accustomed to drinking plain Triple Sec in your cocktails, why not step up to this very French Liqueur d'Orange? It's also delicious in a glass of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral water with a muddle of grilled orange.

St. George Absinthe: This is unlike any Absinthe I've ever tasted. The aromatics are like wandering barefoot through a Northern California basil farm. You can taste the sweet perfume of the spicy basil as it clings to your pant leg. It is most unique Absinthe - quite powerful and arguably aromatic.

My recipe for the Crusta uses instead of a lemon zest, it uses a grapefruit zest. And in addition to the three liqueurs, my recipe uses a wash of the St. George Absinthe Verte along with the juice of a grilled grapefruit. Here it is for your consideration:

The Cocktail Whisperer's Crusta

.5 oz. Pierre Ferrand Ambre 10 Year Old Cognac
 1 oz.  St. George Absinthe for the wash
.25 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
.25 oz. Combier Liqueur d'Orange
.25 oz. Grilled Grapefruit juice (sear slices of grapefruit over fire then cool and juice) 
Simple Syrup to taste (.50 oz recommended)

Add all these ingredients to a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with ice. 
Shake until well frosted.
Wash your glass with the Absinthe, ice and water.
Pour this out into your mouth after the glass is quite chilled or set aside for later.
Add one gigantic hand-cut ice cube to your rocks glass at least 3x3.
Flame an orange zest into the glass by pinching the zest into a burning match.
Double Strain the liqueurs over the ice cube.
Serve with a ribbon of grapefruit zest over the rim and inside the glass.
DRINK! Then have another!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

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