One thing I'm going to do on this website in order to promote the Nine Precepts of Lichtenbergianism is blog about ways they can be used in actual circumstances. And one of the ways I'm going to do that is to blog about one of my favorite hobbies: craft cocktails.
I already have a decent track record of creating new cocktails, but here's an account of something that didn't work.
My fellow Lichtenbergian "Turff" forwarded me the recipe for a cocktail called The Gypsy:
- 1-1/2 oz gin
- 1/4 oz green Chartreuse
- 1/4 oz elderflower liqueur
- 1/4 oz lime juice
- lime wedge/wheel for garnish
Very tasty it was. In preparing it, though, I pulled out a variety of gins: botanical, Old Tom, Plymouth, dry, and an older version of gin called Genever. I ended up making The Gypsy with Old Tom, but the Genever caught my eye and I wondered if perhaps I could do something new with that.
Genever is a older, rounder, more malty version of gin. It's not very common, but craft cocktail mixologists like to explore all those rare corners, so I have a bottle, mostly full.
Often, serendipity is a powerful aide in creation: I love the herb lovage, also a relative rarity. It's got a peppery parsley/celery flavor to it, and it's easy to grow. I wondered what I might make of a basic concoction of muddling lovage leaves in Genever.
SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION #1:
I put a leaf of lovage in the shaker, added the Genever, and mushed it around. A sip of it was vibrant, to say the least: strong, extremely herbal, and not completely unpleasant. Mostly unpleasant, but not completely.
My first thought was to make a simple martini out of it: add some vermouth to it, stir (not shaken), and serve.
It was not great.
SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION #2:
So what would happen if instead of vermouth I used Cocchi Americano, which is technically an aperitif but works like a vermouth?
Nope. The problem was that the lovage was simply too overpowering. Its herbal punch was too strong for the smoother tones of the Genever and even the bitter tones of the Cocchi Americano.
What to do? I was determined to make it work.
Using my highly sharpened skills of GESTALT, I suspected that the Genever/lovage mixture needed something sweet, but I knew that adding simple syrup or agave syrup to the drink would not improve it. (There was always elderflower liqueur, but I'm actually not a fan.)
Sometimes the simple path is ABANDONMENT, and sometimes ABANDONMENT is very simple indeed. In this case, determined not to give up, I fell back on the simplest solution of all: a gin & tonic.
Yep. Muddled a lovage leaf in the Genever, strained it into a highball glass, and splashed that tonic water in there like a champ.
And you know what? It worked like a charm. The sweetness and familiarity of the tonic water took over, and the malty/peppery/herbal punch of the lovaged genever became interesting as a finish to what was otherwise a mundane cocktail decision.
Lichtenbergianism Lesson Learned:
Don't be afraid of the simple choice. It may be the way out.