With home cooking becoming more and more sophisticated, it was inevitable that the haute homemade cocktails would enter the fray.
Nils Noren, vice president of culinary and pastry arts at the French Culinary Institute, and Dave Arnold, FCI’s director of culinary technology, teach cocktail cookery. The classes almost invariably involve centrifuges (they go round and round), nitrous oxide (a gas), and hydrocolloids (we can’t even begin to explain this).
For those of us without space-age gadgets, however, Noren and Arnold have created one simple recipe which can be the basis for any number of high-brow cocktails.
With the warmer months, the cocktail connoisseurs suggest focusing on drinks made with Maker’s Mark, which works well with a wide range of ingredients.
The recipes below feature budding, toothsome spring flavors, and are ideally paired with flip flops and a beach. And for those looking to pair it with a dish, we’ve also made some suggestions.
The Base: Simple Syrup
Mix two parts sugar to one part water (Noren and Arnold said most bartenders aim for a ration of 1:1 for easier pourability; but a 2:1 ratio delivers a superior product). Mix enough for one drink or several. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and remix as needed.
For the apprentice drink maker: Maker's Mark and Harney's Darjeeling Tea Cocktail
4 oz brewed Darjeeling Tea
3 oz Maker's Mark
.5oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
.75oz simple syrup
Salt for taste
Lemon peel for garnish
In a shaker, mix tea, Maker's Mark, lemon, simple syrup, and salt with ice. Shake, strain and serve.
Recommended food pairing: Any tuna recipe — especially tuna tartare or freshly grilled tuna with a soy/mirin or other Asian dipping sauce. The nutty notes in the Maker's, the deep sesame/honey flavors in the tea and the sweetness of the syrup compliment a simple tuna dish with Asian flair perfectly.
For the committed Cocktailer: Maker's Mark and Strawberry Cocktail
5 oz frozen strawberries
4 oz Maker's Mark
1 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. lime juice
salt to taste
In a blender, add Maker's Mark, simple syrup, lime and salt. Add frozen strawberries last (they act as ice cubes to chill the drink). Blend. Strain. Garnish with a lime.
Recommended food pairing: A fresh summer salad with strawberries (of course) and a really strong cheese — a good blue would be ideal. The cheese would counteract the sweetness of the drink and berries with its piquant, salty, earthy karate kick. We like Cabrales.
For the serious mixologist: Bourbon Pecan Sour
2 oz Maker's Mark
1 1/2 oz pecan syrup**
1/2 oz lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup (optional – it will sweeten the drink considerably)
pinch of salt
** For the pecan syrup:
200 grams water
3 grams TIC Pretested Ticaloid 210S (ticgums.com is a good place to find it)
130 grams pecan oil
200 grams sugar
Method for the Pecan Syrup:
Hydrate the Ticaloid 210S in the allspice-infused water with a hand blender.
Add pecan oil and blend till smooth.
Add sugar and blend till smooth. This syrup can be stored until needed. It will separate over time, but can be stirred back together by hand.
Method For the Sour:
In a mixer, combine Maker’s Mark, pecan syrup, lemon juice, simple syrup if using and pinch of salt with ice. Shake, strain and serve.
Recommended food pairing: Dessert is a no-brainer. Summer crepes with pecans and caramel are ideal, to complement the pecan flavor in drink.
Nils Noren and Dave Arnold have a fizzy cooking and drinks blog, cookingissues.com.