Friday, October 10, 2008

[mirto cocktails]

Last night, Tim called us up and asked us if we wanted to meet him at Eastern Standard for which we were game. When we arrived, we found Tim talking to Jackson Cannon as they were drinking Corpse Reviver #3's (equal parts Cognac, Fernet-Branca, and creme de menthe). Jackson asked us what we wanted to drink tonight to which I replied "rye and Chartreuse". Jackson said he had a bitter he would like me to try that might fill the Chartreuse need. That bitter was Mirto, a Sardinian liqueur made with myrtle berries and leaves. While the drink he had been working on was gin-based, he said that he could try it with rye. I replied that I would be willing to go with gin especially if that was what he was comfortable trying. Jackson asked if I was up for two cocktails, one with each base spirit, since he wanted to give the rye version a shot.

Since Jackson had hung up the apron for the night, Hugh Fiore took over. The gin-based recipe he made for me was:

2 oz Plymouth Gin
1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Amer Picon
2 barspoons Mirto

Stirred with ice and strained into a coupe. Garnished with a flamed orange peel.

The Mirto itself was syrupy sweet with a piny taste; Tim likened it to eucalyptus. In the cocktail, the Mirto played rather well with the Amer Picon for complementary bitter fruit flavors and with the vermouth and gin for sharper notes.
For my second drink, Hugh tried his hand at developing the rye version with guidance from Jackson. I watched as the first two versions got dumped before they were willing to serve me a drink they were proud of. And it was well worth their added effort for this:

2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Bianco Vermouth
1/2 oz Bauchant Orange Liqueur
2 barspoons Mirto
1 dash Bittermens Boston Bitters

Stirred with ice and strained into a coupe sans garnish.

The Rittenhouse brought out the spice in the Mirto and formed the base for a complex and tasty concoction. To substitute the orange flavor of the Amer Picon, Hugh used Bauchant, and he added Bittermen's Boston Bitters which is heavy on the citrus. The description of the Bauchant I found was "Delicate aromas of orange and tangerine; complex and elegant with intense fruit flavors underscored by notes of caramel and butterscotch." The variety of flavors and notes going on in that glass were rather stunning. Hopefully one or the other of these drinks makes it on to Eastern Standard's menu in the not so distant future.

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