Archive for Rum

Calamondin or Kalamansi?

Posted in Cocktails, Exotic Citrus with tags , , on December 5, 2009 by Mr. Manhattan

So last winter I got very jazzed about exotic citrus varieties, especially all of the various mandarin/kumquat crosses. Their size seemed to make them perfect for muddling in a cocktail glass, capturing both the juice and the aromatic oils from the rinds. It turns out there are dozens of these hybrids, many of which originated in China. The only one I could find for sale, however, was the mandarinquat, which looks like a rather oversized kumquat but which is a bit sweeter. I made several very decent gin cocktails using these, mostly based on the template provide by Jimmy Patrick’s Madagascar Orchid.

The hybrid which I really wanted to find was the kalamansi which is sometimes called a Philippine lime because of its popularity in that country. However, despite bay area’s large Filipino population, I could not find these for sale in any of the many asian markets in Oakland and San Francisco. Possibly it was “out of season” though it seems to be one of those citrus varieties which bear and ripen fruit all year long. It also occurred to me that California might simply impose some kind of embargo on this fruit for agricultural reasons. The closest I came was a frozen kalamansi concentrate whose first ingredient was corn syrup. Fail. I also started looking for it under the other names it apparently sometimes goes by: calamondin or kalamondin.

In late spring I had a sudden brainstorm and headed down to a large local plant nursery. They had a large selection of dwarf citrus and there, among the conventional lemons, oranges, and grapefruit, I found a calamondin. It didn’t have any fruit on it yet but it was early enough in the season that I figured there was a good chance it would come into bloom. After some travails with chlorosis (leaves turning yellow) and an application of a proper fertilizer, my little calamondin bloomed and proceeded to set a couple dozen fruit.

As the fruit grew and the summer progressed, I continued to do research. One thing which became clearer and clearer to me is that the calamondin I had growing on my little tree, were not the same as kalamansi. For one thing, my fruit were much smaller and flatter than the pictures I’d seen of kalamansi, which are round. Second, as the fruit started to ripen, my calamondin were turning orange while ripe kalamansi are green, sometimes with orange streaks. Finally, after I harvested a few ripe calamondin, I discovered they are seedless whereas kalamansi always have seeds in them. (Here’s a link to a photo of an actual kalamansi, for contrast.)

So, while I am now enjoying fresh calamondin in my cocktails, I am still on the hunt for fresh kalamansi. Maybe this year?

[UPDATE: since drafting this post, I found that Berkley Bowl is selling calamondin, which is great as my little tree has only produced a handful of fruit thus far. The Bowl (as locals often call it) is also offering mandarinquats and Fukushu-quats. I'll be trying those, too, before they disappear.]

ObiWan

“These aren’t the citrus you’re looking for.”

3 small calamondin, quartered
2 strong dashes Scrappy’s chocolate bitters
1/2 oz. Navan vanilla cognac liqueur
2 oz. Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon
2 barspoons agave nectar

Put the calamondins, the bitters and the Navan in a mixing glass.
Muddle firmly, pressing the calamondins to extract all the juice from each segment.
Add the bourbon and the agave nectar.
Shake hard with cracked ice.
Fine strain into a chilled coupe.

NOTES: Try with a few drops of chili tincture for a lovely contrast against the sweet/tart calamondin.

Scurvy Bane

3 small calamondin, quartered
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 oz. St. Elizabeth allspice dram
1 barspoon simple syrup
1 1/2 oz. Smith and Cross Jamaican pot still rum
3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc

Put the calamondins, the bitters, the dram and the simple syrup in a mixing glass.
Muddle firmly, pressing the calamondins to extract all the juice from each segment.
Add the rum and the Lillet Blanc.
Shake hard with cracked ice.
Fine strain into a chilled coupe.

Apricot Shrub: Light and Dark

Posted in Cocktails, Home Made Ingredients, Stone Fruit with tags , , , , , on June 22, 2009 by Mr. Manhattan

OK. I know it’s a kind of craziness, I couldn’t resist making one more shrub this season, despite the fact that I am still working through the results of my last two efforts. Apricots have been much on my mind though. I was just been waiting until I found some really exceptional fruit. I started looking around at our local farmer’s markets and last week I found what I was looking for: some large, very ripe fruit (raised conventionally but more or less pesticide free) and at a good price. My thoughts this time were make two variations, both with cider vinegar but one with organic unrefined sugar (which is basically white) and one with Muscovado (which is basically granular molasses). Here’s a photo of what they looked like when I started maceration:

Light and Dark Apricot Shrub

How did they turn out?

These shrubs make one thing very clear to my palate: apricots and vinegar when blended together are highly complementary. In both light and dark versions it’s actually hard to tell where the taste of one ingredient stops and the taste of the other begins. The light version sampled by itself comes across almost simple tasting: neither apricot nor vinegar stands out. Mixing and diluting in a cocktail brings out more details. In the the dark version the molasses character of the Muscovado, which I was worried would be too assertive, adds welcome contrast and resulting complexity, though there is also something a bit harsh going on in there I’ve not yet figured out.

Mixing ‘em up…

Shrub continues to amaze me as cocktail ingredient. I find it’s almost always sufficient to pick a base spirit, add some shrub (more for brown goods, much less for white goods, even less for gin), chill and you’re done. Other flavors can be added but they are certainly not essential. Also, in the case of these apricot-based shrubs, mixing (essentially, diluting) with other ingredients helps to reveal more of the underlying fruit flavor.

On the other hand, when making shrub cocktails you are going to find some people who simply cannot get past the presence of vinegar in their libation, which they identify as “savory.” That’s OK: leaves more shrub for those of us who like an assertive cocktail.

One thing I haven’t noted in previous postings is that shrubs have a lot of very fine fruit particles suspended in them. This means if a cocktail is left to sit for a while will “break.” There’s nothing wrong with the drink after that point – it just needs to be swirled to mix everything back up. Still, I can see how that might not fit with everyone’s cocktail aesthetics.

Finally: the jury remains out for me whether to shake or stir these cocktails. Conventional wisdom says to shake. I’m just not so sure they need that much agitation so I’ve been stirring. What do you all think?

Apricot Almond Sour

2 oz. Osocalis brandy
1 oz. Light Apricot Shrub
1/4 oz. home made orgeat syrup
1 easy dash of Angostura bitters

Shake or stir over ice. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Apricot Almond Sour

Notes: Apricot and almond are just such a natural combination I had to make a drink based on them both. The batch of orgeat I’m currently using is particularly sweet (but also very intensely almondy). Adjust the proportion of orgeat you use accordingly. You don’t want this drink to be too sweet.

Aprikosenspiel

2 1/4 oz. Blume Marillen Apricot Eau de Vie
1/3 oz. Light Apricot Shrub
1/8 oz. Domain Canton ginger liqueur
1 dash Fee Bros. Peach Bitters

Shake or strir over ice. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float three toasted almond slices on the top of the drink for a garnish.

Notes: I wouldn’t normally think of making a cocktail that uses an eau de vie as a base spirit but with the shrub it really works. The two play together fantastically. I added the tiniest bit of ginger liqueur and a dash of peach bitters for added complexity.

Little Shrub Punch

2 oz. Mt. Gay Eclipse rum
1 oz. Dark Apricot Shrub
1/4 oz. Navan vanilla cognac liqueur

Build in an old fashioned glass, stir, add large ice and serve. Garnish with a slice of fresh apricot.

Notes: This is modeled after a traditional Barbadian Ti (Petite) Punch. Almost any shrub flavor would do for this drink. Originally I tried this with several white agricole rums but found the vinegar did not play well against the funk. You can also skip the ice if that’s your inclination.

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