Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cocktails At My Mother's House: Part One

This will (hopefully, assuming I can sustain an idea for more than a few impetuous moments) be a recurring feature on Le Mixuer.

Most weekends, me and the boy they call Sharky head over to Bainbridge Island to spend Saturday evening at Mom Mixeur's home. Relaxation, swimming, trips to the playground, afternoon trips home by Papa Mixeur, and general gaiety and frivolity ensue.

Mom is primarily a sipper of white wine, but she does keep a tidy little stock of spirits on hand for guests. For instance, there must always be a smidge of bourbon and dollop of sweet vermouth around so friend Pipper can build a rocks Manhattan if the inspiration strikes.

I have, on occasion, been known to rummage around the cabinet myself, and see what I can come up with. It presents a challenge, not having all the spoils of home such as a wide variety of ingredients and tools. I'm hoping that writing about my experiments will make them more systematic , and as a result something unique and desirable will emerge.

So, let's start with the basics, and what I came up with during our last visit to Mom Mixeur's...

The First principal to understand is that we are not working with top shelf ingredients. For instance, we have Gilbey's gin and Lejon dry vermouth. Obviously, if I were to make a martini with these ingredients it would be rather harsh. So rather than scheming to bring out the flavors of the spirit, we're looking to fold them in and smooth them over.

There was a bit of Cointreau left, old bottle of Angostura, half a lemon, and some farm fresh strawberries from Sakuma Farms right on Bainbridge Island. Consequently, we end up with this:

Sakuma Scraper

2 oz Gilbey's gin
1 oz Lejon dry vermouth
1 oz Cointreau
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large strawberry
dash Angostura bitters

quarter strawberry, muddle with bitters
add rest of ingredients and ice
shake and double strain into cocktail glass

A lemon twist would probably be nice in this drink, but I'd already juiced the 1/2 lemon I had, so short of dropping the ravaged shell into the drink it was going to have to be had as is. It was not terribly complex, but light and refreshing.

The name comes from the aforementioned Sakuma farms (the Sakuma family have been growing strawberries and other fruits on Bainbridge Island for 100 years, minus the 4 years of 1941-1945, when the US government placed them in a concentration camp), and also is a nod to J. Summers' Sky Scraper cocktail. The Sky Scraper is more or less the same ingredients, except with grenadine instead of a strawberry.

We'll be back next week, so perhaps something will come of it. My mother reads this blog, so let's hope she doesn't go out and buy anything fancy and make things too easy for me (OK mom?).


Unknown said...

I was quite pleased to see a bottle of St. Germaine there on my last visit (your doing, I imagine). I experimented a bit with that and enjoyed the results. I can't remember exactly what I did, but I think it used the Gilbey's as well.

Nothing like Cocktail Hour at Mom's. :-)


T. Mixeur said...

It's Germain, not Germaine (it's a liqueur, not a member of the Jackson 5). And thanks for leaving me 3 dashes of it!

That's OK though. Using it in my experiments would be cheating anyway.

T. Mixeur said...

I almost forgot a crucial point in the making of this drink. I did not have a cocktail shaker, so I used an old "Slim-Fast" plastic cup with fitting lid, designed for shaking up Slim Fast shakes. There was a small crack in the lid, so before shaking I had to locate this crack and place my middle finger over it to prevent it from spraying all over the kitchen. A sign that the drink is adequately shaken is when the cup becomes frozen stiff and can no longer be squeezed.