I love cardamom. The slightly perfumed yet rich taste really appeals to me. Here in Denmark it is widely used in sweets and desserts, but it also works great in Asian and Indian food.
I wanted to make a cocktail with cardamom, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I had the basic ingredients laid out in my head though:
Cardamom, vodka, pear, cointreau, lime
I knew for a fact that cardamom and pear work very well together, and I figured that the perfume in the cardamom would go hand in hand with equally perfumed cointreau. I started out by making syrup from the seeds, but I didn’t get the intensity I had hoped for. I tried to make the cocktail, but my suspicion was correct. The flavour of the cardamom didn’t power through.
My second choice was to simply muddle the whole seeds, and this immediately improved the outcome by miles. I added I little bit of simple syrup in order to bring out the spice even more, and after experimenting with different kinds of pear juice, I finally felt that I achieved what I wanted. Here’s the recipe:
6-8 cardamom seeds
4 cl. Stolichnaya Black Vodka
2 cl. Cointreau
1 cl. simple syrup
2 cl lime juice
4 cl Looza pear juice
Muddle cardamom seeds with the syrup in a shaker. Add the rest and shake with ice. Fine strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a pear wedge.
The cocktail is named after the company I work for; FatDUX. Besides similarity in name, the pear wedge used for garnish reminds of a feather or maybe even a duck’s tail. I could have just named it “FatDUX”, but that just doesn’t make sense unless you know the company.
Naming it Fat Duck caused some unsuspected confusion though. Apparently a lot of people know of the English Michelin restaurant called The Fat Duck, (surprise) and as a result, one out of two people thought there was some kind connection. Could I, or should I, have avoided that? Should I have called it Obese Poultry or some other flattering name in stead? I don’t think so.
The name has actually served me well as a conversation piece – and as for the whole corporate-cocktail-idea, this has been perfect. It has given me the opportunity to mention the context and therefore FatDUX.
Do we really need that annoying piece of mint sticking up your nose when drinking Mojitos? And how on earth has the maraschino cherry ever complimented the Tom Collins?
Well I believe there are numerous and very good reasons for most garnishes, but I also believe, there are certain ground rules which need to be followed. Actually there is only one rule: Your garnish must serve a purpose and enhance the drinking experience. But this leads to a list of underlying reasons – not all to be fulfilled, but at least taken into consideration.
Trust your predecessors
Some of the classic cocktails would probably have turned out differently in terms of garnish, if they were made today. Personally I would never have thought of using something as intense in flavour as a cherry on the Tom Collins, but does this make it bad mixology to do so anyway? I think a very valid argument when garnishing your cocktails, is to honour the original recipes and creators. However, this doesn’t mean it’s wrong to bring classic recipes up to date – as long as you follow the unwritten (or maybe in the writing..) garnish-codec.
Represent your cocktail
One of the most commonly used methods for choosing your garnish, is to add something that represents what’s in the cocktail. This is a good rule of thumb if you make something on the fly, and true for many classics as well. It is a great way of making a visual statement as to what kind of flavour you can expect, and it also gives the consumer the opportunity to add extra flavour if desired.
The final ingredient
Another approach is to garnish with something that compliments and completes the cocktail. Good examples are the olive in a Dry Martini or the nutmeg in the Alexander. This is the slightly more sophisticated way of doing it, but if done right, the outcome can be both amazing and surprising.
Less is more
Making your cocktail pretty of course also plays a big part. Most fruits, herbs and other garnish-candidates are decorative in themselves, so the aesthetic aspect is probably the easiest part. There are some pitfalls though, and in my opinion, “overdoing it” is the biggest. We’ve all had (or perhaps just seen) the Piña Colada on a beach bar with the umbrella, pineapple, cherry and a dancing bear on top. Not a treat for the eye!
As it is true for many other aspects of mixology, keeping it simple is often the key.
I have never used cloves in anything besides from the times as a kid where I stuffed them in oranges. It’s not that I don’t like them, but I honestly don’t know any food recipes that call for them. That being said, I’m no chef, so why would i..
The orange-stuffing-thing is actually one of the main reasons why I wanted to do it, because the sent of cloves really takes me back.
I have been thinking about using them in a cocktail for quite some time now, and finally I have pulled myself together and made one. The problem is, that you cannot just put them in the shaker or muddle them. The cocktail will take minimal flavour anyway.
The appropriate thing to do was probably to wait until Christmas – but why wait when you have an idea and a bit of enthusiasm?
The first thing that came to mind was to make a syrup, and so I did. I decided to add a few other ingredients to refine the taste and give it a bit more edge. I thought that cinnamon might work well with the whole christmassy idea, and that black pepper would give it strength and character. It actually turned out very well.
Here’s the recipes:
1 cinnamon stick
20 black pepper corns
200 g sugar
200 ml water
Heat ingredients in a saucepan and let it simmer for an hour. Fine strain and let cool.
6 cl. Wild Turkey Rye
2 cl. sweet vermouth
2 dash Angostura Bitters
1.5 cl. clove-cinnamon-pepper syrup
Mix ingredients in a shaker and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel.