I’m usually not much of a highbrow cocktail drinker. They are often too sour or more often too sweet, overly complicated or mysteriously bitter. Pete Wells, in the New York Times, recently described the tony drinks created in stylish Manhattan cocktail lounges as “reminiscent of a spoonful of Robitussin with a hangnail of lemon peel floating on top”. Usually I go for very cold vodka, served straight up, with a twist of lemon. It’s not the taste really; it’s the icy awareness that glides down the back of my throat.
Yet I must admit to being intrigued by all the bartenders’ special tools; the apothecary bottles, shakers, muddlers, strainers, tinctures and exotic bitters arranged on the bar with the precision of a surgeon’s tools. On a recent visit to a favorite Manhattan restaurant, Il Buco Alimentari & Vinera, that was just how the bar was set. Since I was dining with a bourbon aficionado, we ordered the Bourbon Renewal cocktail. We tried guessing the ingredients. More than a few cocktails later, the bartender kindly wrote out his formula on the back of a napkin.
The Bourbon Renewal definitely needed to be recreated at home and I share the recipe with you here. The oolong tea syrup is a handy ingredient to have in the refrigerator and you can order the yuzu juice on line. It has many culinary uses. Get the Yakami Orchard brand, which is 100% pure juice.
Aperol is an Italian aperitif made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona. The Aperol Spritz is a popular cocktail to begin an evening. The Angel’s Kiss is an even more interesting drink that features Aperol but with the addition of mezcal.
Just because you are not drinking booze doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t enjoy a celebratory drink, beautifully garnished and served in a nice glass. I still like to offer a festive drink to guests who aren’t imbibing; a cocktail full of interesting and complimentary flavors, minus the alcohol. The recipe for the mocktail given here uses the same oolong tea syrup featured in the recipe for the Bourbon Renewal cocktail.
A Shrimp Dish
As long as you have the mezcal in your cabinet, try this shrimp dish. The recipe is adapted from Cinco y Diez, a Hugh Acheson restaurant in Athens, Georgia. Unfortunately the restaurant is now closed but the recipe is memorable.