Does the coconut not get the respect it deserves? Coconut is everywhere! It’s a bonafide trend, the water at least. I mean, few billion dollar industries can complain about “not getting respect” and come out sounding unlike this guy. But I suppose this week’s MxMo theme, courtesy of JFL at Rated R Cocktails does have a point: aside from the ubiquitous and often underwhelming Piña Colada, Coconut doesn’t have the same prestigious place in the cocktail fruit pantheon as Pineapple or Blackberry. So, in the spirit of the challenge, can we bring coconut back to the stage? Can we make it the star? Give it a reason to be kept behind the bar? And most importantly can I laugh in the face of all that is holy and sacred in food pairing and make gin and coconut work together? Take that Flavor Bible*.
I thought that my challenge was going to be pairing the astringent foresty notes of a good gin with coconut’s creamy richness. Gin and cream go together really well, but for some reason coconut always felt a little dissonant with gin: a touch funky, a touch tropical, but without that delightful acidic balance that pineapple or citrus fruits bring to the party.
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While on our recent vacation to the Canadian Maritimes, I did my best to try as many local/regional products as possible. “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” Something to that degree I think. One of these things which caught the eye of the Gin Wife and I was a Maple Dessert Wine from Rossignol Winery on Prince Edward Island. On its own, its sweet, with a hint of caramel, burnt brown sugar, maple, and young port. Nice, but perhaps a touch sweeter than we were able to drink a whole bottle of in a single sitting.
Enter my gin tasting. I had only a small set of basics for writing up the few gins I couldn’t bring back*: tonic, soda, and of course anything else we picked up along the way. Other things [such as the Maple cream liqueur] didn’t quite stick around long enough for me to use in a review. But this local wine, I didn’t want to go to waste, so I did a little bit of on-the-spot cocktail creation to give me a) another lens with which to look at the gins I had to try and b) and an excuse to come up with a Prince Edward Island inspired cocktail.
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For Mixology Monday LXXXVII,* Stacy Markow, has issued us a challenge to summon forth our inner hulks and smash. But before you start smashing anything in sight, let’s get a hold of the reins. As this is a cocktail themed challenge, the only things Stacy is challenging us to smash are fruits and vegetables. So perhaps its more Gallagher than it is Hulk.
Here are the requirements for this game [summarized by your truly]:
1. Grab something fresh. At least one herb. At least one fruit. Bonus if its local and in season**.
2. Smash it.
3. Drown it in spirit and ice.
4. Sweetening is allowed.
So without further ado, here’s my entry for MxMo #87: The Midnight Sun cocktail:
Midnight Sun Cocktail
2 parts Gin [we were looking for a little bit of a lift, and since we were pairing with Aquavit, we went with a more contemporary toned gin. Counter Gin seemed a good choice because it highlights Verbena, Tarragon and Lavender, giving it a nice herb-forward tenor, which mixes really well in this cocktail. Other good alternatives include Gin Mare (), or Leopold’s ().]
1 part Aged Aquavit [many Aquavits are aged, but we think that Linie’s Auqavit, with over a year spent in Oak, gives it a nice, mellow, and more rounded out flavor.
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Firstly, you might be wondering about the theme and the name. The theme From Crass to Craft, put forth by Scott Diaz over at Shake, Strain and Sip challenges us thusly: “Create or find a drink that uses one or more ingredients that are not considered “craft” but are or can be used in a “craft” cocktail.”
Back to the name ‘Halja.’ Yes, it is the origin of the name “hell,” but let’s back up again. Hel was a goddess in the Norse tradition and her name [as well as the word from which our ‘hell’ comes from, the Protogermanic word Halja] means “one who covers up or hides something.”
This name seemed perfect for this. I’m hiding the fact that our main ingredient [a very specific kind of flavored vodka] is not really a craft ingredient by putting it in a drink where it not only shines- its most definitely the star- but its less desirable qualities are masked in beautiful fashion. Hence the name Halja, because frankly, I thought that it was going to require god-like capabilities to make the kind of drink I expect from top-end cocktail establishments with the kind of ingredient that rarely rises above the level of shots for college students who really haven’t acquired a taste for alcohol yet.
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About a month ago, Mixology Monday returned with an equal parts cocktail challenge. Of course, given my predilection for easy-to-remember cocktails, cocktails which you can walk into a kitchen and not worry about whether or not you have the right ratio (e.g. the Negroni), I was ready to get in on that. And then the deadline passed without a stroke of inspiration and I never quite for my entry in.
So when Mixology Monday posted its most recent competition, hosted by Wordsmithing Pantagruel, with the theme (it’s not easy) “Bein’ Green” I had to get in on it.
So gin and green, they almost seem to go together naturally. Gin and Tonic with a garnish of lime. The quintessential portrait of gin. I wanted to get lime into this cocktail somehow. Mint is another ingredient which works well with gin. While in the summer, fresh mint is widely available. Perhaps even growing in your backyard. But let’s look out the window. It’s October, fall is here to stay so fresh mint might be harder to come by. But interestingly enough I have this bottle of Baffert’s Mint Flavored Gin lying around*.
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