COCKTAILS WITH MEZCAL part 1 – Old Ancho Cocktail

old-ancho-cocktail

I`m going to start a new series – cocktails with mezcal. The reason for doing this is that i think mezcal deserves to be used much more in cocktail mixing, its such a nice spirit. Actually its used quite much now compared to before and that is a good thing, but i have never yet seen it in my country. And even though you really should experinece the full flavours of mezcal by sipping it (its very nice in clay cups) it makes nice mixed drinks.

So i`m going to post cocktails using mezcal, hoping that more will try to mix with it. Mezcal is a real handcrafted spirit distilled from fermented juice of the pineapple-shaped core, the piña – of the agave plant. These cores are roasted in earthen mounds as opposed to cooked as is the practice in tequila making, to simplify it. And the distinctive woody smokiness of the mezcal comes from this roasting.

The smokiness can maybe be a challenge to get used to but premium mezcals like Del Maguey and Ilegal has a light smokiness that is not offensive. And the smokiness adds a very interesting punch –  a little smoke and fire to a drink.

The herbal flavours of the agave and the earthy smoke from the roasting pairs really well with fruity flavours making sure you definetily won´t get a boring drink. If you have had bad mezcal as your first experience of this wonderful spirit, give it a new try – with a premium brand.

I have a tendency to use a lot of fresh fruit juices in my drinks so i`m not even sure this cocktail will do the mezcal enough justice. On the other hand –  it has a lot of smokiness that stands up well to most mixers. So here is the first cocktail with mezcal which i call Old Ancho.

To this cocktail i have made a ancho-chili syrup. The anco chili is really a dried poblano as they are referred to poblano when they are fresh. The ancho is dried, a reddish brown, flat and wrinkled chili and sweetest of the dried chilis originating in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The word ancho means “wide” in Spanish. Fresh poblanos are also sold under the name pasilla.

There´s another variety of dried poblano which is called mulato chile and which is darker in color,  sweeter and also softer in texture. Its heat rating is 2,500 to 3,000 Scoville units. (compared to ancho which is 1000-1500) The mulato has been described as tasting somewhat like chocolate or licorice, with undertones of cherry and tobacco. (mmm….)

The anco chile has a sweet slighly hot and earthy flavor. It is commonly used in Mexican cooking and is a staple in red chili and tamales.

The flavor in this syrup came out very nice, the palmsugar in it played well with the earhy flavor of the ancho, but to not have the palmsugar flavor overpowering the syrup i also used an equal part light raw sugar.To make this syrup you need 1:1 palmsugar and light raw sugar and i used a 2:1 ratio sugar to water. Then you need one large dried ancho chili. I only made a small batch this time.

ANCHO CHILI SYRUP

1 large dried ancho chili
1 dl light raw sugar (I used oxfam)
1 dl palmsugar
2 dl water

ancho1

I boiled this in my pan for about 10 minutes, then the chili seeds started to fall out. I let it boil a bit more and tasted. The flavor wasn´t very hot at all so i let it boil for another 3-4 minutes and tasted again. Now the seeds had given a bit of a hot flavor so i took it off and strained out the seeds. I also took out remaining seeds from the chili.

Then i put it all back again on the stove to simmer for another 4 miutes before i took it off to cool. The flavor was now a little bit hot but not too much, earthy, spicy and raw sugar sweet, just perfect.

The mezcal cocktail i made is a fruity and spicy twist on the mojito adding the ancho syrup instead of sugar and topped with Tonic water.

OLD ANCHO COCKTAIL

1.5 oz mezcal
1 lime, quartered
0.75 oz ancho chili syrup
5-6 mint leaves
Top with a good quality tonic

Muddle lime, mint and ancho syrup in shaker. Add mezcal and shake over ice. Strain into a cocktailglass with crushed ice. Top with tonic. Garnish mint and a speared ancho chili.

The mezcal and the acho syrup goes well together i think even though the mezcal somewhat overpowers the flavors of the syrup due to its smokiness. Nevertheless these two are friends. I find this cocktail quite refreshing. The ice also mellows the flavours a bit.

ancho-chile-syrup-making-21

 

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CREATIVE USE OF BANANAS IN COCKTAILS

First i want to say one thing – i`m not very fond of bananas in cocktails..and that`s the reason why i jumped on the task of writing this post, i simply see it as a challenge to try to create something interesting with bananas..

The first thing – it can`t be too sweet and second – it can´t be too bananaish.

Third – it can´t be too slushy and thick.

Fourth – find or invent a cocktail where the banana-whatever thing will fit in well and actually make the drink tasty.A commercial banana liqueur or spirit was out of the question – i wanted fresh stuff.

So what to do? well i rubbed my brain and then figured that if i make a banana peel syrup (and maybe just a little of the fruit) it may add just a hint of banana flavour without getting overly much banana-sweet. For the banana peel syrup i wanted greenish somewhat unripe bananas,they are less sweet and hopefully would lend a more interesting “green” flavour to the syrup.

Lesson number one (i noted to self) : get the right type of fruit. And when it comes to bananas – bananas are not just bananas.The varieties have very different sizes and textures.

Now the next challenge was to hit the stores when they happened to have some green unripe bananas.There´s an Indian-african-caibbean store here which now and then carries apple bananas and they are often in the unripe state in that shop.

Apple bananas (musa manzano) are much tastier than the regular bananas,they have a sort of apple flavour with a hint of strawberry and at the same time they actually have a bit of tang as the fruits are sweet yet have a slight tartness.They are smaller, rounder, firmer and less sweet than other bananas.These seemed to be exactly the type of banana i needed for this.

GREEN APPLE-BANANA DAIQUIRI

apple-banana-daiquiri

 * 1 1/2 oz light rum

* 3/4 oz lime juice

* 1 barspoon apple banana peel syrup

* ¼ oz honey water – honey and water mixed 1:1

Pour the rum, lime juice, honeymix and syrup into a shaker with ice cubes and shake, strain in to a glass and add a large chunk of ice and garnish with the other lime half

APPLE BANANA PEEL SYRUP

2:1 Sugar and water. ¾ part light muscovado sugar and ¼ part molasses. Peel from 1 apple banana and a few slices of the fruit.

To this syrup i used light muscovado sugar and a pinch of molasses plus the peel of one apple banana plus a few slices of the fruit as its not so sweet. Then i boiled it for 2 mins and then simmered very lightly for another 20 mins before cooling, straining and bottling. I got a very subtle banana flavor and so i think i could have used more of both peel and fruit. But it was a nice syrup, very rich in flavor.

Now we´ve had a cocktail that uses banana quite subtly, so what about making something that really is straight forward BANANA? despite my doubts about too much banana i decided to give it a go..and so here is something that is both a cocktail and a dessert, for your sweet tooth:

THE ULTIMATE BANANA COCKTAIL

the-ultimate-banana-cocktail

 2 oz demerara rum

1 tsp molasses

¼ oz fresh lime juice + a little extra for the bananas

¼ fresh lemon juice

2 oz fresh orange juice

Dash orange bitters

1 tsp Dark chocolate,chopped

1 tsp pecan nuts, caramelized and chopped.

2 small bananas – sliced lengthwise, halved and cut in quarters

Muddle lime, lemon and molasses in shaker. Add rum,juices and bitters. Shake and strain into a glass. Place the banana sticks in the glass and drizzle fresh lime juice over the bananas.Top with grated dark chocolate and caramelized pecan nuts.

And there you got it – the Ultimate Banana Cocktail.

CARAMELIZING THE PECAN NUTS

1 oz light sugar

A few drops lemon juice

A few pecan nuts

Melt the sugar very slowly in a mini pan with the lemon juice and when you have a brown caramel, and place the pan in a waterbath to cool. Add the pecan nuts, then take them out and leave to dry on a lightly buttered baking sheet.

Enjoy!

GOMME SYRUP

gomme-syrup

Over the last 2 years i`ve been making so many different syrups, all from simple, demerara, all kind of spiced to bellpepper or kaffirlime syrups but never for some reason did i make gomme syrup. I read about how to make it long ago written by Paul over at Cocktail Chronicles. What interests me with gomme and made me now finally make it is its viscosity. Its said to lend a silky mouthfeel and is especially suited for the old school cocktails like for instance the Sazerac.

When making syrups i used to only heat up the water and sugar to get it to dissolve but i have changed my mind concerning this. I discovered that sometimes after a time some of the syrups got moldy. It didn´t happen too often and i use them up fairly quick but it did happen. Now i have learnt that one important thing when making syrups is that it should be properly boiled for 2 minutes. If boiled to long it will become caramel and if not sufficiently boiled it will after some time become apt to mold. Another important thing is to use a good quality sugar, the better sugar the better syrup.

I didn`t find any gum arabic powder but i found it in the form of small “crystals” or “stones” that looked almost like amber, very beautiful indeed. I threw them into my sturdy thai mortar and started to beat the hell out of them, (they are very hard) to finally get them pulverized.

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2 oz gum arabica powder

2 oz hot water

( but i added an extra 0.5 oz water)

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I used the recipe from Pauls site and mixed 2 oz of the gum powder with 2 oz hot water plus an extra 0.5 oz i threw in, and then i putted that aside, stirring occasionally while i cooked my dinner meal. After some 20 min or so i took a look at it and it was all dissolved and turned into a brown sticky “soup”. Curiously i took a teaspoon to taste just a little and i can´t say the flavor was very nice but oh what a mouthfeel, pure silk.

gomme-gum-arabica-crystals-in-mortar

So now when that was done it was time to make the syrup, i first used 7 oz white sugar and 1 oz raw sugar to 4 oz water and brought to a light boil for 2 min. Then i added the gomme and mixed it all together and made another tasting.

The weird flavor from the pure gomme was now mixed into the syrup and i think it actually does give a bit of flavor to the syrup, or rather a sort of warmness. The mouthfeel is amazing, its very viscous, and it really is like silk. I can´t wait to try this gomme in cocktails both old and new to see how it differs from simple syrup because differs it does even though of course simple syrup is an acceptable substitution for gomme.  I`ve had commercial gomme before but it wasn`t like this homemade syrup. The gum arabic used with a simple syrup acts as an emulsifier and it was used to keep the sugar from crystallizing. At the same time it lended a silky texture to the cocktails. I really like this texture and as soon as i can get some Peychauds bitters i`m going to make a Sazerac, but for now i make another drink.

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2:1 simple syrup

8 oz white sugar ( i also added 1 oz raw sugar)

4 oz water ( here i also added one extra oz)

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As you can see i often tweak the recipes a bit to my liking but that´s not really nessecary. Usually when i make simple syrups i tend to prefer the 1:1 formula to the 2:1 simply because when they get cold in the fridge it slows the pour. But this gomme syrup i wanted to make more like a 2:1 syrup even though i added an extra ounce water.

gomme-powder

The food grade gum arabica is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree; Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal. It is used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer, but has had more varied uses in the past, including viscosity control in inks.

Currently over 70% of the world’s supply of Gum Acacia is produced and exported by the Sudan. Other major supplying areas are Chad and Nigeria and in small quantities from mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Niger. The uses of gum arabica dates back some 5000 years to the time of ancient Egypt

The gum is only produced by trees that are in an unhealthy condition as gum yelds are improved by such natural factors like poor soil, hot weather, lack of rain etc.lessening the vitaly of the trees. Larger yelds of gum are actually produced by trees that are damaged and thus the bark is stripped from a tree and later the workers returns to remove the tears of gum formed in the wound of the scars. Within 3 – 8 weeks, the gum will start to collect in the wound. A young tree will yield 400 – 7000g annually.

gomme-gum-arabica-crystals-bottle

 

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