Monday, September 29, 2014

Cocktail: L’Ami du Matelot

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Ah, fall has arrived this morning and with a flourish.  It’s not winter yet; far from- but there is a quickening in the air.  The breeze is blowing at least fifteen knots and there is freshness with the lack of humidity. 

If I were on a sailboat right now, it would be one of those rare days where the summer melts into the fall as something organic and unforced.  

Speaking of organic, I’m supping on a plate of silver dollar pancakes right now.  Cooked on a butter slicked cast iron skillet, doused in extra dark, handcrafted, Vermont maple syrup.  This is the kind of cooking that my body craves as the days become shorter and the nights colder.  I need something to fill my soul with nostalgia from my culinary past. 

First there are the cool then colder temperatures.  My palate calls out for flavors of the season.  Some of these tastes are for bourbon like my perennial favorite, Four Roses.  There is no need to spend too much with Four Roses.  They offer all different levels of excellence!  For this cocktail I propose using the Yellow Label version because there are other liquors in the drink.  If I was only using bourbon without the next ingredient, I’d use their superlative Small Batch, but with it the Yellow Label will suffice and your pocket should be a bit happier. 

The ingredient that goes in next is named Snap.  Snap is an 80 Proof liqueur crafted by Art in the Age, the Philadelphia based collective of neo-Agrarian artists and postulators.  Snap is based on the Amish Lebkuchen or ginger snap cookie.  It is potent, memorable and quite delicious, especially when combined with the assertively flavor-driven, Four Roses Bourbon. 

The next ingredient is the ice.  Handcrafted ice is so very important in this cocktail and I raise the specter to a higher level by smoking it first.  What? Smoked ice?  How is that possible?

My forthcoming second book Whiskey Cocktails has a recipe for oak smoked ice that I’d like to share with you. 

1.    Take a fireproof dish and fill ¼ with oak wood shavings
2.    Light the shavings on fire, adding more as needed
3.    Capture the sweet smoke in an overturned Boston Shaker
4.    Add ice immediately to the shaker thereby “smoking” the ice
5.    Mix your cocktail as usual
6.    I used a bit of maple syrup in the water that was frozen, thus making the ice “maple syrup-oak” smoked ice!

That’s really it!  What you will have is smoked ice! Keep cool in the freezer or use straight away…

The reason why you would want smoked ice is my personal desire to add flavor deeply into a cocktail.  Balance is ever so important- along with simplicity.  I know there are quite a few steps and that’s ok to think that.  But at the end of the day even the simplest drinks require quite a few steps. 

I like to ratchet drinks up several notches in flavor by freezing earthy and sensuous maple syrup into the ice.  Then I go further by adding a subtle hint of maple wood smoke.  And to deepen the flavor even more, I can mix a bit of Balsamic vinegar into brown liquor cocktails.  This gives a mysterious edge to the usual flavors of fine brown liquor to ginger snap.

It’s really up to you and your creativity!

L’Ami du Matelot
Serves two rather comfortably for fall

2 oz. Four Roses Yellow Label
1 oz. Snap (Art in the Age)
1 oz. Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 cups Maple Smoked Ice – ¼ cup maple syrup to 3 cups Mountain Valley Spring Water- freeze overnight (essential)
2-4 shakes Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
2 oz. Mountain Valley Sparkling Water
2 sprigs of spearmint

Freeze a few ice cube trays with Mountain Valley Spring (flat water, not the fizzy one)

Into a fireproof tray, add some maple shavings
Light on fire and add more shavings as necessary
Capture the smoke in your inverted Boston Shaker

Add the maple ice to the Boston Shaker filled with maple smoke

Add the Four Roses Bourbon
Add the Snap
Add the Balsamic Vinegar
Cap and shake hard for 10-15 seconds

Pour into two rocks glasses with 1 cube of maple syrup ice in each
Add 1 oz. of Mountain Valley Sparkling water into each glass
Dot with the Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Garnish with a sprig of Spearmint

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.

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