Tuesday, September 29, 2015

hungry eyes

1 1/2 oz Berkshire Mountain Distiller's Greylock Gin
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Green Tea Syrup (*)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass containing 1 oz soda water. Garnish with 6-8 pre-swelled Thai basil seeds (also known as tukmaria and falooda). A lemon twist would work in a pinch.
(*) 1 part strong steep tea to 1 part sugar.
Two Yacht Rock Sundays ago at Loyal Nine, I was mulling over some less bitter herbal cocktail ideas when I decided on pairing green tea syrup with Yellow Chartreuse. Or perhaps I was looking for a recipe using Thai basil seeds that I had in the spice cabinet. Thai basil seeds are small black seeds that swell when placed into water over the course of around 5-10 minutes. I was originally introduced to the seeds in a drink at the Green Goddess, and I tinkered with them in the Frog Pond for they look like frog eggs given the white coating that they acquire. Back to the spirits aspect, I paired this with gin and lemon juice but the drink needed some bitters to give some lower notes to the tea and Yellow Chartreuse's high ones. The addition of Angostura Bitters brought the drink closer to a gin for brandy Champs-Élysées. Given how the Thai basil seeds dance with carbonation, I also lightened the drink with an ounce of soda akin to the Safety Dance. With the same wide coupe, the basil seeds got lost in the surface area, so I used a taller, narrower glass. For a name -- or perhaps the name was already in my mind for the basil seeds also look like eye balls -- I picked Eric Carmen's Hungry Eyes off of the yacht rock song playlist. Describing the origins of this drink though is like figuring out the chicken and the egg conundrum.
Thai basil seeds can be found in their dry format Indian spice stores under the name tukmaria or falooda, and are often found in a variety of Asian drinks already swelled (less useful). Swelling the seeds is easy in a small glass with a bit of tap water. I have experimented with flavoring the seeds with little luck. The swelling is linked to low solute rainwater and thus adding syrups and liqueurs inhibited things; moreover, even if it did work, the seeds might sink instead of float in the cocktail. I have not tried swelling the seeds and transferring them to a syrup or liqueur though. Warmer water may speed up the swelling time, but it did not seem to make the end diameter any greater.

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