Sunday, September 21, 2014

ask the dust

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LXXXIX) was picked by Chris of the A Bar Above blog. The theme he chose was "The Unknown" which seemed like a good contrast to the ingredient-specific events like coconuts, pineapple, and nuts. Chris elaborated on the concept by describing, "Basically the idea is to try something new, an ingredient or technique that you've never had experience with before and create a cocktail around it... Use a spirit that you've never used before. It could be a base spirit, modifier or that Belgian Ale that rings in at 15% alcohol. Use an ingredient that has always captured your imagination in the supermarket. Maybe that weird looking fruit that you always walk by at Whole Foods, or that unusual looking vegetable that you can't even pronounce. [or] Use a new technique that you've never tried, but have always wanted to. Have you been dying to make your own vermouth, amaro, or martini glass made completely out of flavored sugar."
When I read this theme, I thought about a drink I just created for the most recent menu at Russell House Tavern. While looking for inspiration, I spotted in the fridge a bottle of Byrrh Grand Quinquina -- an ingredient that I had tried in a few drinks created by others but had never made into one of my recipes. After a few false starts, I search the web for a clue and discovered a Tweet that declared that Haus Alpenz founder "Eric Seed is right: 3:1 Byrrh to Mezcal works beautifully." I mixed the two closer to equal parts, and while it tasted good, it needed some depth. Crème de cacao seemed like a natural complement both to the quinquina and the agave, and Angostura Bitters could add some spice and dryness to the mess. I made it for Andrea when she visited me at the bar one day, and she commented that it needed some brightness. Since some of the brighteners like elderflower were in some menu items already and others like Strega and Galliano we lack, I turned to a hint of absinthe for these notes. After Andrea tasted this before and after chilling and diluting, she commented that it tasted better before the ice. Perfect -- a Scaffa was born! For a name, I looked to the back of my bar notebook which contains a list of possible names; the John Fante book title Ask the Dust seemed to work well with the Mexican roots of the mezcal in this drink. Originally, I submitted the recipe using a rocks glass; however, my bar manager suggested a snifter to not only diversify the glass usage on the menu, but he felt it was more contemplative of a drink like a fine glass of brandy.
Ask the Dust
• 2 oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina
• 1 1/2 oz Mezcal
• 1/2 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao
• 2 dash Angostura Bitters
• 1 scant barspoon Butterfly Absinthe
Build in a snifter (or single Old Fashioned) glass. Briefly stir to mix without ice. Note: This is a room temperature drink.
Once assembled, the Ask the Dust began with a mezcal aroma that later gained chocolate and herbal notes over time. While the quinquina's grape filled the sip, the swallow was much more complex with chocolate, herbal quinine, and smoke flavors and lingering mezcal notes. When I created this recipe, I was not expecting it to move very well between the high price point and the oddity of ingredients. Instead, it is currently on the 86 list as of yesterday since the bar ran through the case of Byrrh it had bought; more should be in on Tuesday though.

So thank you to Chris for picking the theme to challenge each and everyone of us and for running this month's show, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the shakers shaking and the spirit of the event alive!

1 comment:

bza said...

Had this at Russell last week and really enjoyed it. A lovely sipper for autumn!