Sunday, May 15, 2011
Booze Pairings: A Cocktail for Any Occasion
I think that, particularly for cocktails, which for the most part I don't drink with meals, such matching should be approached broadly, considering the occasion for the drink rather than the food. Let me give a couple of examples before getting to my first entry. For celebrations like graduations, promotions, or engagements match with drinks that are fairly light and can be quaffed relatively quickly. Champagne cocktails sound right while heavy and complex drinks like a Last Word or Negroni do not. The first nice weekend of the spring might be a good time to break out the Pimm's while a Sazerack might go well with the first cool day of autumn. A lot of this matching is intuitive like imbibing tequila or rum primarily when it is warm, but I think that other occasions might merit a bit more contemplation.
Onto today's example. On this beautiful Washington Sunday, my wife and I (more her than me) attacked the garden for a bit. Light labor in the sun seems to yell for a rum or tequila but I wanted to go another direction, but still drink something with a fruity or herbal edge befitting the setting. An drink called Black and Brown that I'd run across seemed to fit the bill, with its unusual combination of fruit, bourbon, and brandy.
Black and Brown (courtesy of Food and Wine)
2 ounces of bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
1 ounce of vanilla brandy (Tuaca)
1 dash of Peychaud's bitters
1 ounce of lime juice
Muddle the blackberries in the shaker, add other ingredients, and shake with ice. Strain (I used both the shaker top and a sugar sifter to catch most of the lime and blackberry pulp) into a chilled cocktail glass that you have coated the edge of with lime and added a bit of sugar to. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Despite the odd brandy and bourbon pairing, I thought it worked well. The swallow started with the bourbon and transitioned to the lime and blackberries. The Tuaca only came through a bit in the aftertaste and the bitters were also hard to pick out but probably tempered the sweetness of the fruit and Tuaca. All and all, this was an amazingly smooth drink (and dangerous giving the whopping three shots of booze in it). I think that the sugar and lime on the rim was unnecessary. However, it added to the visual appeal of the drink, which was quite gorgeous with the lime and blackberry mixing in the center of the cocktail. Next time, I might add a bit more bitters but thought it was quite nice. One note: make sure you have some time to kill, as this drink takes a while to make with the juicing, muddling, and coating of the glass rim. Nonetheless and importantly for this discussion, the Black and Brown proved a pleasant accompaniment to our gardening and was refreshing despite its punch. I'd love hear what others think are the best drinks for specific occasions or activities.