Friday, March 8, 2013

Lightning Slim (and the Teardrops) Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow

When I think about true refreshment, what comes to mind immediately is something clear, pure and thirst quenching. I'm lucky to have at my disposal a variety of spirits from around the world. This combination of sweet to aromatic to the blatantly intoxicating may shock the casual observer. But in my case, at least the case that comes with drinking for a living, I've found that flavor takes president over sheer power.

Oh please don't get me wrong. I like a strong cocktail more than one that requires several applications before that utopia is experienced.  The emotional boundary of drinking to get drunk or drinking for flavor balance is very fine indeed. But as I say, with this business comes the application of lots of water. I recommend at least two glasses of water for every drink consumed. This is not just prudent - it's necessary behavior when drinking for a living. So if you see me and I'm drinking a large amount of water, please be assured, I'm readying myself for more drinking.

Recently I had the good fortune to spend some time with Todd Hardie, beekeeper, farmer, and holistic spirits distiller at Caledonia Spirits & Winery. He's a highly pragmatic man, brimming full of ideas and positive, healing energy. There appears to be a ray of sunshine that pierces the room around him even in the dark. This illuminates him as if from a hidden source. He is passionate about the earth, bees, honey and hand made spirits distilled from honey.

Caledonia Spirits & Winery
The use of honey in the distillation process goes back certainly to the ancient Egyptians. Mead was produced through the Dark Ages and the techniques for distillation using honey are well established. Barr Hill, produced with careful attention to detail, is pristine in nature, just like the method of harnessing nature to produce it. I'm especially fond of the vodka, aromatic, bold and grassy with an underlying layer of caramelized honey. This vodka is gorgeous stuff, worthy of your time and your hard earned dollar. I recommend doing very little to it.  My preference is on the rocks with a splash of Perrier Sparkling Water, but it's up to you. I don't think it can take corn syrup tonic water, so do yourself a favor and pour that awful stuff down the drain.

Do it now!

What I do think it can take is the tonic water from Q-Tonic, if you need to have it like they drink them on the Ivory Coast. Tall glasses, packed with ice against the 100-degree temperature and 100% humidity. Refreshing? But of course - a vodka and tonic is always refreshing. However Barr Hill is lost in a V&T. Don't even waste your money on vodka of this caliber when contemplating diluting it with cheap, cloying tonic water.

But I digress. A favorite way of enjoying Barr Hill Vodka is in a tall glass with filtered water ice, infused with lemon zest. I filter my water using a Mavea "Inspired Water" pitcher - and this is no surprise given the quality of my well water. You need to filter it, lest the ice freeze cloudy and dreary. I filter the water and then freeze it in an ice cube tray with zests of lemon and shakes of the lemon bitters from The Bitter Truth. This application of bitters right into the ice changes the character of the drink as the ice slowly melts. It's sophisticated from a flavor perspective and you can easily do it at home. Peel a lemon, chop that lemon zest up finely and sprinkle it over the ice cube tray. Reserve a bit and do it again when the ice starts to form. This is very classy indeed. Get yourself some fresh mint and some Perrier Sparkling Water in the lemon essence and prepare to transform from a boring vodka and tonic to something that speaks clearly to the aromatics in both the ice and the lemon zests, perked up by lovely French water.

This is such a simple preparation compared to a few of my past cocktails.

Lightning Slim (and the Teardrops) Cocktail

• 3 oz. Barr Hill Vodka (per drink)
The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
• Lemon
• 1 oz. Perrier Sparkling Water in Lemon Essence
• Ice made with filtered water from a Mavea "Inspired Water" pitcher, infused with lemon zests and several shakes of the Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters.

1. Fill a Collins glass with large, hand cut cubes of your filtered and lemon zested ice.
2. Add the Barr Hill Vodka to the Collins glass.
3. Add a sprig of slapped mint. (How do you slap mint? Put it in one hand then slap the other into it, like you are clapping - this releases the oils.) 
4. Top with the Perrier Sparkling Water, about one ounce per drink.
5. Revel at the deep notes of honey careening and spiraling over your tongue and adding to your soon to be hyper-lucid state.

Danger Level 5 out of 5.  Danger!  Danger! 

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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