With both cooking and drinking, one of the things that I've been pondering is when like ingredients work well together and when they are redundant and a better choice would be dissimilar but complementary components . I've not devised any sort of definitive rule on the matter but am starting to accumulate some specific do's and don'ts. For instance, do mix vanilla rum and creme soda. Don't mix lemocello and lemon juice. Do pair Cointreau with orange bitters. Don't pair it with Grand Marnier. This brings us to today's cocktail, the Red Lion which combines both orange juice and Grand Marnier orange liqueur.
The Red Lion
0.75 ounce of Grand Marnier
1 ounce of gin (Plymouth)
0.25 ounce of lemon juice
1 ounce of orange juice (preferable no pulp)
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. I first strained my pulpy orange juice through a sugar sifter.
Taste (flavor, balance, and clarity): 7
I would say that this drink is very clean in taste. At the same time, I didn't find it terribly sophisticated. The most interesting interplay was between the gin and the brandy of the Grand Marnier, but that was somewhat in the background. Returning to the though above, the orange juice and Grand Marnier worked together, with the Grand Marnier adding a sweet but citrus element that was balanced by the lemon juice. The flavors were all on the cool side and worked to make a crisp taste that accentuated the orange juice and tasted like a classy Mimosa.
Versatility (when and for whom the drink works): 8
I though that this drink was pretty accessible, as many drinks with strong fruit juice components are. Even with the gin and the brandy, I think that a number of folks could enjoy it. I'm not sure what the ideal setting for the drink is but I also can't think of when it wouldn't work.
Hassle (Cost and Time): 8
This drink isn't particularly expensive, with the Grand Marnier being the only sort of pricey spirit. Juicing the lemon takes a bit of time but not too much. Overall, this is a pretty simple drink to put together, especially since it lacks a garnish.
This was one of those drinks that I can't really come up with anything wrong with. Perhaps its because I've gotten a bit snobby and want to play with more exotic ingredients, nothing about the drink terribly excites me either though. I think that its best and highest use is as a substitute for the Mimosa - though I'm not sure if a drink with this much booze is always the best idea at brunch.
I think that next time I will take the orange juice down to 0.75 ounce and maybe take the lemon juice a hair as well to accentuate the gin and brandy a bit. Another option is to jettison the lemon juice and try using orange bitters.