Saturday, November 27, 2010

masked booby punch

1 oz St. Germain
1 oz Gold/Aged Cachaça (Seleta)
1/2 oz Jasmine Green Tea, strong
1/2 oz White Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass (alternatively mix and chill in glass with ice). Twist a lemon peel and grapefruit peel over the top.

About two weeks ago, Andrea and I submitted a punch for the St. Germain Rock'em Sock'em Punch Bowl Brawl. Our punch made the top 3 cut to be served at the event out of a few dozen entries! The recipe we submitted was slightly different than the one above, but it was closer to how we intended it. The major difference beside scale and chilling with an ice block was the syrup. When we crafted the small scale sample, I made a ginger-citrus peel simple syrup which involved making an oleo saccharum with grapefruit and lemon peels and sugar. The concept was to extract the oils out of the peels and into the sugar to make an "ambrosial essence" of the fruits. David Wondrich in Punch traced back the process to a recipe written in 1670. After that, I grated fresh ginger and muddled it into the oil-soaked sugar before adding warm water to make the syrup. The effect was stunning when we did it at a small scale.

Unfortunately, when it came to competition time, my scale up on the ginger was wrong. I guesstimated how much ginger I initially grated, and perhaps the effects of scale up itself (can effect spices and bitters) might have played a role. Therefore, I recommend using a ginger syrup -- commercial or perhaps even homemade -- to standardize the process. While the oleo saccharum added an extra layer of citrus wonder to the drink, the hour extraction in sugar might deter many people from casually giving this recipe a try. Plus, over the large portion of citrus juice in the recipe, the oleo saccharum's effect only added a slight highlight of aroma.
Initially, we had submitted the punch to the boxing-themed event as the Palooka Punch. Given our base spirit of cachaça, we tried to figure out a good boxer or MMA star to name the punch after, but none of the Brazilian names seemed to make good drink names. Instead, we switched to boxing terms, and out of all the boxing terms, only "palooka" seemed to pair up with the word "punch" well. Later, we decided the definition of "an incompetent or easily defeated athlete, especially a prizefighter" was a bit too ironic. Instead, Andrea suggested that we switch to the fauna and flora of Brazil. Over brunch, we sat with our respective smartphones until I found the large, handsome sea bird, the masked booby. A "Masked Booby Punch" sounded rather kinky and in line with St. Germain's advertising campaigns using old erotica images and comparable to Emma Hollander's St. Germain sparkler, the One-Armed French Hooker.

For the competition, I ended up making the tea and the ginger-citrus peel syrup to bring to the event. The ginger -- the key weapon in our punch -- while seemingly strong in the syrup was way too subtle in the bowl. Moreover, as the ice cubes (instead of a large ice block) diluted the bowl's contents over the two hour span, the tannins in the tea became stronger in the balance as the other flavors were diluted away. Our St. Germain rep Kate even asked if I wanted to spike the bowl with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, but I figured that it should stay as is and also I feared the explosion that would occur if the two feuding brothers' product met (then again, for a fightsport theme, it would work). However, the cachaça still did a good job in assisting the tea and lemon juice in cutting down the sweetness of the St. Germain and syrup, so that aspect went as planned. In the end, we placed second.

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