Archive for the ‘Cocktails’ Category

Malay Rose

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I grew up in Gamboa, a small town in the Republic of Panama, situated where the Chagres River meets the Canal.  There were various fruiting trees in the town, but my favorite was one whose fruit we called Rose Apple.  This wasn’t its correct name–the tree is Syzygium malaccense, and the proper common name is Malay Apple–but it persisted in Panama, and always seemed more accurate to me, given the glorious dark pink color of the fruit’s skin.  The flesh itself was white, light-textured and a bit spongy when properly ripe, and deliciously tart with rosy overtones.  There was always a beautiful time of anticipation as the tree prepared to fruit–after the flowers were polinated, the bright fuschia petals would fall and carpet the ground under the tree, a lovely sight.  It’s been too many years since I was home during their fruiting season, and I need to change that.  

My cocktail games have produced a drink that reminds me of this fruit, and I’ve called it the Malay Rose.  The color of the drink is a color some varieties of the fruit attain in nature, and balances floral and tart in a way I really enjoy.

The Malay Rose

2 oz Gin
0.25 oz Campari
0.25 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz lemon juice
0.25 oz rose syrup

Shake ingredients over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.  A variety of gins can work in this drink–Damrak is a favorite for this mix, as is Bombay (NOT Sapphire!).  Using a lighter, more floral gin like Hendrick’s or G’vine Fleuraison changes the nature of the cocktail, but can still be nice for the milder version that it is.  Rose Syrup can be found at Shemali’s, a fabulous Lebanese grocery in Foxhall Square down the hall from my place of employment, and at other Middle Eastern shops.   I hope you like it!

Celery Bitters Tasting

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

The Bitter Truth Bitters are now available in our fair city, which is a very exciting prospect.  Bitters are a wonderful component not only of cocktails, but of cooking, and the flavors in this new brand are intense and wonderful.  The most unusual flavor in this new batch is Celery Bitters.  I’ve used them more for cooking so far–savory cocktails are not my specialty–but did want to do a tasting with Martinis.

I love a good Martini–I prefer mine with two parts gin to one part Dolin Dry Vermouth.  Hendrick’s is a favorite of mine, though I know many gin purists who seriously disagree with that opinion.  While recommending options for using celery bitters in a Martini to customers, I was surprised by how many recommended using Hendrick’s.  Infused with cucumber and rose, I prefer to play up the floral elements, or contrast it with citrus.  I was more inclined to use a more classically styled gin, like Bombay or Plymouth.

As I had both Plymouth and Hendrick’s on my bar, I decided to give them both a try.  I made two Martinis, identical but for the gin: two parts gin, one part dry vermouth, and 2-3 dashes celery bitters.  While the one using Hendrick’s was still good, the flavors of the celery bitters overwhelmed the milder gin, and many of its subtle flavors were lost.  The strength of the Plymouth was perfectly matched by the bitters, and was kicked up when I added a garnish of sliced baby dill gherkins.