There’s only so much citric acid a man can take! Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-made daiquiri (with Havana Club 3yo please…) as much as the next guy, and on a sunny day it’s hard to beat a Tommy’s margarita. But after years of drinking caipirinhas, margaritas, daiquiris and aviations I have to say that my love affair with citrus fruit is over!
I am always a little disappointed when ordering my first cocktail in a bar when the conversation goes something like this:
Bartender: what do you fancy Dan?
Me: I’m not sure, but I’m in the mood for some rum or tequila
Bartender: how about a margarita?
Bartender: or maybe a daiquiri?
It sometimes seems like I am being presented with the most obvious choices not to mention drinks that are easy to make (3 ingredients, shaken and up…). I understand the reason for this, they are popular drinks and generally require little conversation and not a lot of time to make. That’s fine, but it also means that far too many drinkers are missing a chance to taste these fantastic spirits in ways that would perhaps hide their character less.
Before I get hate mail from bartenders who use rum, tequila and cachaca in much more innovative ways, or feel that I am being unfair; I know that there are other great drinks out there that showcase these spirits, but in my experience you have to go looking for them instead of being presented with them.
I think that with cachaca especially, the trusty caipirinha is presented 99% of the time. If you say that this isn’t quite what you’re after then you are presented with a list of fruits that could be added to it. Well for me the time has come to say leave out the lime and let these spirits shine!
In the case of rum, there is such variety in terms of style and flavour profile, so why not let it be the star of the show instead of a support act to add a boozy touch to sweetened lime juice? And while we’re at it there is no need to fall back on just substituting the base spirit in another classic drink. Rum old fashioneds are great and all, but with such diverse flavours in rums have a play around with some different ingredients and come up with something new. We’ve got a new favourite to get you started:
LONG AFTER IT’S GONE
50 ml Havana Club Barrel Proof
20 ml Lillet blanc
10 ml Merlet Crème de Peche
5 ml Galliano L’authentico
2 dashes Angostura bitters
In a mixing glass with plenty of cubed or cracked ice, stir the ingredients until well diluted and chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a small lemon twist.
Tequila probably suffers worse than rum. If it’s not in a margarita then it is usually presented in a shot. Of course there are times when a beer, a jager and a tequila are a great way to start your evening (or end it), but tequila offers so much more diversity.
Recently I have been using blanco tequilas a lot as a base to create some quite elegant cocktails. I have also been playing with some anejos as a bolder base flavour to add complexity to classic style cocktails. While having a play around with Cazadores Anejo I came up with this little beauty that really shows off the rich flavours that come from the new American white oak barrels they age it in.
EL MACHO BLANCO (which I hope means ‘the white stag’ but with my knowledge of Spanish could mean almost anything…)
60 ml Cazadores Anejo Tequila
15 ml Lillet Blanc
10 ml crème de cacao
5 ml Apricot Brandy
3 dashes Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Stir all the ingredients with plenty of cracked or cubed ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnishing it with a nice big orange twist.
If tequila suffers from being paired with lime far too often, the perhaps the most abused spirit is cachaca. It is almost always served as a caipirinha or a twist thereof. A well-made cachaca such as Sagatiba or Cabana offers so many more possibilities though. Try this on for size!
45 ml Cabana Cachaca
15 ml Noilly Prat
10 ml Merlet crème de peche
5 ml Wild Turkey Rye
2 dashes peach bitters
In a mixing glass stir all ingredients with cubed or cracked ice taking care not to over dilute this one. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass (small) and finish of with a small orange twist.
I may have sworn off the citrus fruit for a while but as far as I’m concerned that doesn’t mean I am avoiding rum, tequila and cachaca!