Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Cocktail Du Jour- The Friedensreich Hundertwasser Cocktail
Well, where to start this post? Should I thank the wonderful cocktail blogger and great personal friend, Jeff Morgenthaler for asking me to design a cocktail for a German publication? Or maybe I should actually explain who Friedensreich Hundertwasser is (a hint- he was a visionary, and some say crazy designer and architect whom I admire). Hundertwasser once said, "A straight line is ungodly". In the case of creating this cocktail, I took anything but a straight line in designing this, and yet I couldn't be happier with the results. This is a great summertime cocktail, distinctive, unique and flavorful.
I was asked to design something around the theme of "tropical liqueurs" and my first thought was Damiana. I wanted to avoid using, say Alize, to design something too sweet or out of character for me. A quick conversation with Jeff though, led to some brainstorming and an agreement to instead use John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, a tropical liqueur made on the island of Barbados. Velvet Falernum has hints of lime, almonds and cloves which makes it particularly well suited to tiki style drinks, and as a liqueur, it contains a high percentage of sugar, so I find most drinks which have Velvet Falernum as an ingredient do not need a sweetening agent (i.e. simple syrup). I didn't want to go down the usual tiki-drinkish path with Falernum though, I wanted to create a cocktail with depth and complexity and a balance between sweetness and acidity.
Naturally, rum seemed to be a natural fit with falernum, but what kind of rum to use? I have Indian rum, rhum agricole, Bacardi, Gosling's Black Seal and more in my liquor cabinet. I tasted all of them, and each one eliminated itself for the exact flavor profile that I was looking for. I then tried cachaca, but it still wasn't quite right. Bardenay rum, however, was exactly what I was seeking. Distilled in Boise, Idaho, Bardenay may be the best kept secret in the distilling world right now. In addition to their rum, I have a bottle of their gin and one of the few vodkas that I actually care for. Bardenay's rum is distilled from 100% cane sugar, and has just enough age on it to give it the lightest amber coloring. This is a really well made rum, and a perfect match with the Falernum.
Now, I know Falernum and a good rum isn't the most unusual pairing in a cocktail, they are used together quite frequently, and specifically chose these two flavor profiles because I wanted to work with a new ingredient. Smoked Peach Vinegar. I'd smoked vinegar over hickory wood for 3 hours (at 180 degrees) this past weekend, and I was itching to use it, This was just the occasion, the smoke and sweetness of the peach are a perfect match for the complex flavors in the falernum and the smoothness of the rum.
I topped off the cocktail with some tonic water and added one dash of Fee Brothers Peach Bitters for added complexity. The Smoked Peach Vinegar is bold, painting with wide stripes and bold colors,, while the Peach Bitters add detail and more background notes, not discernible but providing subtle support to the main flavors.
The Friedensreich Hundertwasser Cocktail
1 oz John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
1 oz Bardenay Rum
1/2 tsp Smoked Peach Vinegar
1 dash Fee Bros Peach Bitters
1 fresh slice peach (garnish)
1 fresh mint sprig, spanked (garnish)
1) Combine first 4 ingredients in a double rocks glass, stir to mix the flavors
2) Add ice to glass
3) Top with tonic
4) garnish with peach slice and mint sprig
I'll leave with two things. First, I'd like to thank Jeff Morgenthaler for inspiring me to make this cocktail. Jeff doesn't know how often I come away from conversations with him energized and full of great ideas because of him. Thanks Jeff.
Second, I'll share on more Hundertwasser quote with you, and this one is my favorite. "When we dream alone it is only a dream, but when many dream together it is the beginning of a new reality." Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000)