Wednesday, August 19, 2015

gin fizz tropical

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo C) was picked by me, Frederic, of the CocktailVirgin blog. There was a lot of chatter about what to do for the 100th event starting once the 90th Mixology Monday rolled around last autumn. Moreover, when I was trying to fill out the event schedule, I had a few bloggers who felt the pressure to do the right thing for the ten-of-tens was too great and thus refused. The beginnings of an idea of what to do came to me while at Tales of the Cocktail as I was preparing to interview Paul Clarke about his book The Cocktail Chronicles, but it did not fully gel until after I had transcribed and edited the interview and began tweeting about it. The concept of simplicity, elegance, and timelessness rang out as a good way to describe which drinks had lasting ability. Unfortunately, most bartenders these days when creating new recipes feel that the simple drinks have all been done so they add bonus ingredients or believe that recipes are not as interesting without a few extra bitters and liqueurs. So for MxMo C, I figured C was for Cookie, Cocktail, and um... Chronicles -- yes, the Cocktail Chronicles: the blog that started Paul going as a cocktail writer and later as the founder of this monthly event. And also the title of his book.

I explained the concept in the announcement post, "But what does Mixology Monday Cocktail Chronicles' mean? I figured that we should look to Paul's magnum opus and digest the theme of it all -- what is timeless (or potentially timeless) and elegant in its simplicity. Paul commented in his interview, '[it]'s wonderful to see that level of creativity but simplicity is going to be the glue that continues to hold interest in the cocktail together. The moment that we make cocktails too difficult or too inaccessible to the average guest, the average consumer, then we start losing people.' Paul does support a minor tweak of a major classic as well as dusting off a lesser known vintage recipe like the Creole Contentment; in addition, proto-classics like the Chartreuse Swizzle and the Penicillin intrigue him for their potential to be remembered twenty years from now. Moreover, he is a big fan of the story when there is one whether about a somewhat novel ingredient like a quinquina, the bartender making it, or the history behind a cocktail or the bar from which it originated. Indeed, I quoted Paul as saying, 'If I write about these and manage to make them boring, then I have done an incredible disservice. So I feel an incredible obligation not only to the drinks themselves, but to the bartenders who created them, and also to the heritage of cocktail writing to try to elevate it.'"
So last night I delved into Paul's book again and found the list I had made for myself of drinks to make. One that called out to me was the Gin Fizz Tropical that was first written about by Charles H. Baker The Gentleman's Companion:Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask. Baker was introduced to this recipe in Manila by the head of the Philipine Island's Tourist Association during their dugout canoe trip down the Pagsanjan River rapids, and he described it as "an affair based on the New Orleans Fizz background but using pineapple syrup... instead of sugar, and juice from... green limes instead of lemon." Instead of Baker's abstract recipe, Paul cited one from Erik Adkins, a bartender in San Francisco that helped to make workable recipes out of Baker's text. Adkins opted away from the cream in a New Orleans Fizz and chose to bolster the tropical notes with orgeat. He did keep Baker's garnish of "fresh green mint... a few tender leaves, recently broken off and stuck in a round and fragrant rosette right under the drinker's nose. Don't use a straw; the closer the mint comes the nicer"; however, he upped the ante by putting the mint in a thin lime wheel floated on top. The recipe is as follows:
Gin Fizz Tropical
• 2 oz Plymouth Gin (Seagram's)
• 1 oz Lime Juice
• 1/2 oz Orgeat (BG Reynolds)
• 1/2 oz Pineapple Gomme Syrup (Housemade pineapple syrup)
• 1/2 oz Egg White (1 whole Egg White)
Shake once without ice and once with. Strain into a Fizz glass (here, 7 1/2 oz size) containing 1 oz soda water. Garnish with a thin lime wheel with a mint tip inserted.
Once prepared, the garnish offered lime and mint aromas right under our noses. A creamy carbonated lime-flavored sip gave way to a gin-driven swallow with tropical notes from the pineapple and orgeat. While perhaps not as timeless as a Ramos Gin Fizz, this variation was just as enjoyable and with a more exotic story than one of a line of overworked shaker-boys cursing yet another hot, un-air conditioned brunch shift at the base of the Mississippi. Since I plucked this recipe straight from Paul's book, I cannot see why he would object to me choosing it to represent this Clarkean theme.
Alas, I will not give thanks to the host for running the theme -- perhaps because it would be a little weird to thank myself and perhaps unthanks is more appropriate for it is not my first time this season. But I will give thanks to "Poppa" Clarke for starting this event back in April of 2006, to all of the previous 99 hosts (I guess I am thanking myself here after all), and to all of the participants of this event and the previous ones. Without all of you, this event would have ended (or never started) long ago. Cheers!

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