Proposed by: David
Reviewed by: Jonathan
Cookbooks don’t have to be very complicated to challenge me, but I’m especially worried when instructions say, in effect, “Go to the grocery (or specialty spice store), ask someone about uncommon and/or subtle ingredients, add them together one by one (mostly through distinctly different processes), and then combine them all (until you wonder why you didn’t just do that in first place), then you are ready to begin.”
If you follow links below, you will understand my apprehensions this week. Central to this cocktail was curried nectar, a simple syrup flavored by traditional Indian spices. And I didn’t think very clearly about Jonathan’s being at the beach where obtaining ingredients might be even more challenging.
My excuse is that I’m in San Antonio this weekend and, while I was visiting my mom, my sister hosted a “Gourmet Club” comprised of some neighborhood friends. I found this recipe online, and it seemed a natural for the focus on Indian Cuisine. The earliest incarnation comes from Jonny Raglin, when he was the head bartender at the Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco, and it relies on a combination of sweet, spice, and sour in the syrup, curry, and lime.
The combination isn’t unusual, but the guests at my sister’s party seemed leery about trying one at first. Maybe it was the color—my version seemed more brown than Jonathan’s—but, as the rule of the club is to try everything, everyone had one eventually… and some had more than one. It helped that the essential spirit, gin, fits the season and that, by definition, a “gimlet” promises something refreshing. The term “gimlet” actually comes from a drilling tool, and, in when it’s associated with eyes or expressions, the term labels a penetrating quality.
Some mixed drinks hinge on absolute, elegant simplicity, but another category of cocktails ask a great deal of cocktailians. Both involve creativity, but the second present special risk, brinkmanship, the high-wire act. Little doubt, this drink tests a taster’s mettle.
Here’s the recipe:
1½ ounces Tanqueray Rangpur gin
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce Curried nectar
1 kaffir lime leaf
Muddle Kaffir lime leaf with Curried Nectar in a mixing glass. Add ice, lime juice, and Tanqueray Rangpur gin. Shake heavily and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a paper-thin lime wheel. In the interest of space, I’ve linked to the nectar recipe.
And Here’s Jonathan’s Review:
This cocktail is, on many levels, amusing. The first part of that is the complexity belied by the recipe description as “easy.” If it has not been apparent in the proposals and reviews, David is the one who more often proposes the drinks that are complex in both ingredient and preparation. He seems to worry about that, but I enjoy both the pursuit of the necessary parts and the preparations required.
The next part of the drink/challenge that I enjoyed was tracking down the needed items while on a beach vacation. Kaffir lime leaves? That would be difficult in my hometown, but was impossible on the coast of South Carolina. Fortunately, the rest of the spices were not quite as hard to find, although I should point out that I had to venture back into North Carolina to do so. The other option is that the curry nectar could have been a simple syrup with curry powder but with our sister, Laurie, preparing Indian food while David made his nectar, I would have been a slacker to do that.
The final part about this week that was an amusing coincidence is that one of my co-workers, who is Indian and a regular reader of this blog, recently left for a job with another organization. Just when I needed his expertise and advice, he abandoned me. At least that is what I want him to think.
It would be most appropriate if David includes a picture of the nectar in the making. We exchanged messages during the process mostly because the stew of spices, peppers, sugar and water was terrifying to look at for a not-so-young person with a finicky stomach. The end result, though, was a spicy (even after a rough strain and two fine strains in my case) and complex simple syrup unlike anything I have ever tried. Side note – I am planning on using part of the remainder to bake some peaches.
It may sound like shilling for a liquor, but the other complex and wonderful part of this cocktail is the gin that is specified. I had thought that we had explored gin fairly extensively, but Tanqueray Rangpur is an amazing citrus and ginger version. My first inclination was to use a gin that I had on hand, but it seemed to be an unnecessary shortcut especially considering the difficulty in making the curry nectar. Good decision. Tanqueray Rangpur has to be the go-to gin for anyone who loves a gin and tonic.
The classic gimlet is one of my favorites. This version with its spice and strong lime presence through the liquor, and probably the kaffir leaves for those who can find them, was excellent. I’m sorry I did not get to experience it with Laurie’s food or with my former co-worker, but I loved it.
David’s Take: Unusual? That goes without saying, but a deft and creative cocktail… sometimes there’s a sort of artistry in this stuff.
Jonathan’s Take: David may worry about his complicated proposals but if they are this good – bring them on.
Next week’s proposal:
David noted a while ago that next week we will hit the one-year mark for this blog. Each of us will note some of the lessons that we have learned in this endeavor. We could probably set some arbitrary number, but why? The week after we will list what we consider the hits and misses of our proposals. Don’t forget that we want reader submissions on the latter!