Thursday, March 6, 2008
Cocktail Du Jour- The Radar O'Reilly Cocktail
At work today, I noticed that that I'd received some comments on my post last night. A mysterious poster, who goes by kevin (the all lowercase letters make me suspicious), asked when the Radar O'Reilly Cocktail would be appearing. Never one to disappoint a fan, I made the decision then and there to create a cocktail in honor of Radar when I got home today. For the record, this is the last cocktail that I will ever create that will be named after anyone real or fictional that hails from Iowa (Radar is from Otumwa, IA). I commented back to lowercase kevin that I thought Radar would probably not be a whiskey drinker like Fred Grandy, but would instead favor rum drinks, when a certain JT posted that Radar was a grape soda man. I decided then and there to create a cocktail using rum and grape soda (I always love a good challenge).
On my way home, I started trying to formulate a grape soda based cocktail in my head, but I wasn't getting very far. I knew that I ought to avoid the cloying, diabetic coma inducing, sugary goodness of Nehi Grape Soda, but not being a soda fanatic,and nor having consumed any type of grape soda since the onset of puberty, I was at a loss for what other options might be on the market. Luckily, I live close to a Whole Foods Market, so I thought I'd run in and see if, perhaps, Boylan's makes a grape soda (if they do, my WFM doesn't carry it). Instead, I found two grape soda products. R.W. Knudsen Grape Spritzer, has all the color of Nehi grape, that royal purple color that would be at home on a King's robe. Unfortunately, other than color, it doesn't offer much. Its flavor is reminiscent of stale dishwater, slightly effervescent and with a mild grape flavor, but not something that I would pay money to consume, even with alcohol in it. My other option was a pink/grey colored soda, Natural Brew Organic Grape. As ugly a soda as it is, this stuff makes me think about Grape Crush or Nehi Grape when I taste it. I bought both and came home.
I decided to follow Lance's 23rd Rule of Bartending when I got home, "Make most new drinks in a bucket". I poured 2 oz white rum, 2 oz meyer lemon juice, a couple of dashes of Fee's lemon bitter and then topped it off with a little of the Knudsen's. Godawful is a kind description, although disgusting would be about as apt. The drink had no balance and little flavor. The meyer lemon juice dominated, making this an unpleasant start to my mixing. Next, I decided a little of the other soda was in order to balance the flavors out. The Natural Brew has more of the traditional grape soda non-grapiness but i still added it to foster an attempt at success. Swing and a miss! Strike 2! I'd tried, but the inherent sweetness made it exceptionally difficult to balance this cocktail.
I'd just about given up on this cocktail, when my much better half came into the kitchen and tasted my work in progress. Her mouth puckered and she frowned. "Why don't you add chartreuse to it? You like chartreuse". I was desperate so I ran to the liquor cabinet, grabbed a bottle of green chartreuse and added a 1/2 oz, stirred it and tasted. Brilliant! What was a cloying and sugary sweet concoction, suddenly developed some balance and depth. While this isn't ever going to be a world class cocktail, the end result was a well balanced cocktail that incorporated both rum and grape soda in this drink.
The Radar O'Reilly Cocktail
2 oz white rum
1/2 oz green chartreuse
2 oz meyer lemon juice
equal parts RW Knudsen Grape Spritzer and Natural Brew Organic Concrod Grape, to fill
3 dashes Fee Bros Lemon bitters
Build over ice in an double rocks glass, stir to incorporate and enjoy. This really did make a nice cocktail once i added the chartreuse. And for the record, this is my last cocktail to be named after a former tv character. Garnish this drink garishly, I think Radar would appreciate it.