Sunday, August 14, 2011

arrack foam

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LX) was picked by David Solmonson and friends of the 12 Bottle Bar blog. The theme they chose was "Come to Your Senses" where the goal was described as, "We all know that cocktails are supposed to taste good, and for this event, we're going to take that as a given. What we're looking for, instead, are drinks that truly excite one or more of the other senses: touch, smell, sight, or even hearing."

While I had a few ideas floating through my head, when I read some of the suggestions which included "semi-solid shots [and] jiggling jellies," I knew which recipe I should try. Instead of going the route of modern molecular mixology, I would go the relatively ancient way. That being a recipe proffered by William Schmidt in his 1892 book The Flowing Bowl. In that tome of wonder is a semi-solid presentation of Batavia Arrack called Arrack Foam. William's directions were:
Arrack Foam: Mix one quart of sour cream with half a pint of arrack, and four ounces of lump-sugar; beat to foam, and serve it in glasses.
In parsing the recipe, luckily I had advice from bartenders John Gertsen and Will Thompson of Drink. When they made this at the behest of the Dude Kicker kids, they opted for crème fraîche for the sour cream. They also chose to foam up the drink using a nitrous charger. While I kept the crème fraîche idea, I opted for a cobbler shaker and a balled up Hawthorne strainer spring for the foaming. Moreover, I decided to scale back eight fold to make two servings especially since crème fraîche is quite rich:
• 4 oz Crème Fraîche
• 1 oz Batavia Arrack
• 1/2 oz Sugar
Stir the crème fraîche and sugar in a shaker until the sugar is incorporated. Add Batavia Arrack and a balled up Hawthorne strainer spring, shake vigorously, and spoon into chilled cups or glasses. Garnish lavishly with flowers or berries of the season, and serve with a small spoon.
For a garnish (despite one not being listed by William), I went with borage, bee balm, and nasturtium flowers which are all edible (the nasturium flowers were garnishing the glass, not the foam).
For the senses, the crème fraîche provided much of the aroma that was accented by beautiful floral notes from the garnish. On the front of the mouthful was a sweet cream flavor that was followed by a slight burn and a funkiness from the Batavia Arrack. Overall, the Arrack Foam presented a sweet richness with a bit of a tang at the end. As for the flavors of the garnish, the borage was a grassy and herbal taste and the bee balm was floral but less peppery than the nasturtium. And for this month's theme, I guess I included not only an unique texture but a more stunning visual component than I usually strive for.

So cheers to 12 Bottle Bar for hosting this month's Mixology Monday (even if Batavia Arrack is not on their bottle list) and to Paul Clarke for letting someone dare us to incorporate echolocation into our recipes!

2 comments:

12bottlebar.com said...

Frederic -- it's uncanny how much this looks like one of the dishes from El Bulli I posted a picture of. Obviously, I'm a big sucker for these old yet incredibly modern drink. This is a great find -- thanks so much for submitting it.

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