Sunday, April 10, 2011

frigate bird

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LVI) was picked by DJ Hawaiianshirt of the Spirited Remix blog. The DJ chose the theme of "Your Best" as in your favorite creation. His description was as follows, "Give me the best drink recipe you've ever created... I'm talking about that one drink that you've worked on for quite a while. The one that you've carefully tweaked over time until you found that perfect recipe. The one you've made tons of times: sometimes alone in contemplation, sometimes for a guest so that you could get their opinion. If you don't have a drink that fits the above mold, then perhaps this is your excuse to revisit your old original remixes."

For this theme, I was a little befuddled on what to do. Practically all of my good creations in the last few years have found their way on to this blog. I, therefore, used this week's Mixoloseum's Thursday Drink Night to make up a new drink, the Galathea, that I will write about in a few days. However, the next day I remembered a forgotten drink I created for a party back in 2008 a month or so before I was invited to write for this blog. Perhaps not my best drink, but one of my first decent creations. The party was one we hosted for IMBD -- that is International Migratory Bird Day (not the internet movie database). For that event, I found dozens of bird drinks and culled the list down to 17 classics including the Stork Club, Penguin, Mexican Eagle, and Yellow Bird, one modern drink -- Robert Hess' Black Feather, and two of my originals to round out the menu to 20 boozy drinks. One of the originals, the Passenger Pigeon, got written up in DrinkBoston for it used Haus Alpenz's then just released Allspice Dram; true, I would probably gussy up that drink now with some sweet vermouth and decrease the Dram to appear like this:
Passenger Pigeon (remixed)
• 2 oz Calvados
• 3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
• 1/4 oz Pimento Dram
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
The other drink was based off of Haus Alpenz's other new offering at the time, Batavia Arrack. While looking for bird-named cocktails, there were a few that seemed missing. I solved one by honoring the extinct American Passenger Pigeon above.Two others were the Albatross and Booby which became names of some of the mocktails that night (and the latter was the most popular mocktail of the evening and the name got partially recycled in the Masked Booby Punch two years later). The final was the Frigate Bird which was perfect for the Batavia Arrack since the range of some of the species included Indonesia where the spirit is distilled. With the nautical history of Batavia Arrack being used in sailor's punches, a seabird that they would frequently spy seemed appropriate. Beside being known for stealing other birds' food and eggs (hence, their name), they are best known for the male of the species' inflatable red-colored throat pouches that they use to attract a female during mating season. To symbolize this mating display, I used Cherry Heering and grenadine to provide a glorious red color. Moreover, these two ingredients along with some falernum provided some sweetness to tame the harsh and funky Batavia Arrack base spirit.
The recipe as it was created then was as follows:
Frigate Bird
• 1 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack
• 1/2 oz Cherry Heering
• 1/4 oz Falernum (Velvet)
• 1/4 oz Grenadine (homemade)
• 1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
If I were to craft a drink called the Frigate Bird today, it would probably be in a different recipe as my cocktail crafting style has changed over the years (I think my drink size of 2 1/2 oz was heavily influenced by our older copies of Trader Vic and Duffy). Here, the cocktail provided a light fruit aroma with the orange notes from the bitters being more forward than the cherry and pomegranate ones; and as the drink warmed up, the Batavia Arrack gained a strong foot hold on the nose. The cherry notes did come out in the sip where they were tinged with orange from the bitters. Next, the swallow was the Batavia Arrack supplemented with spice from the falernum and bitters, and the aftertaste contained some lingering cherry and orange notes. I was quite surprised at how balanced this drink was and how well it held up to my palate over the years. Moreover, I was impressed at how drinkable I made a recipe that was mainly Batavia Arrack and how that spirit kept the other ingredients' sweetness in check.

So cheers to DJ Hawaiianshirt for hosting and picking this month's theme and Paul Clarke for managing the MxMo aviary!


DJ HawaiianShirt said...

Thanks Frederic. I have no Arrack. How would you suggest I go about subbing it? I have some cachaca on hand...

frederic said...

In a pinch a cachaça might work depending on which one you went with.

DJ HawaiianShirt said...

It's going to be Leblon, which I imagine isn't ideal. But it's better than not making the drink, as I always say.