Cocktail evolution

Photo by Hudin

One of the dirty truths about the world of mixed drinks is that it’s more derivative than Hollywood. Everything is based or borrowed or inspired from something else. Unlike the movie business there’s nothing wrong with this though as you can drink the same drink over and over without getting tired of. Seriously, I’ve tried and the Manhattan still rules my bar, but so does the Sitges, a rum-based Manhattan that’s great departure while still giving me that hint of Big Apple in a Martini glass that I want.

While at the masia avoiding whatever real work I might need to do and being generally bored with no one to chat with minus the wild boars (their theories around devolving the Spanish state are eye opening), I experiment on various cocktails for a book that’s been something like two years in the process. But, it’s presented me with a new project to tinker with these days as I was recently turned back on to the Southside by Erica Duecy while on a tour of the wines of Israel (we who drink wear many hats.) While I generally prefer Bourbon based cocktails there was more than just that as to why this one never spoke to me. The recipes I found seemed generally flabby and overtly Sex and the Cityish but then I found the recipe by Tradition in San Francisco which is a great deal more robust while staying playful and quite tasty.

Shaken, the recipe is as such:

2 ounces London Dry gin
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed juice from 1 to 2 limes
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
1 ounce simple syrup
10 fresh mint leaves
1 ounce cold club soda
1 mint sprig

My first problem with this are actual two problems. First, it’s in fucking American standard measurements which make everything hell to scale as well as just generally being annoying. Secondly, club soda, bye. Sure, you need it in an Old Fashioned and other classics, but who the hell keeps a bottle of this lying around just to make cocktails outside of a proper bar? No one, that’s who, so adeu bubbles. Let’s see how that looks now.

60ml London Dry gin
25ml lime juice
25ml lemon juice
30ml simple syrup
10 fresh mint leaves
1 mint sprig

This makes a lot more sense to get all the proportions correct. Admittedly I use mini beakers to make sure it’s all to scale. The problem as this sits, it’s too damned sweet. The syrup needs to be backed off, so see lets go with about 20ml of syrup instead or two teaspoons of granulated sugar if you really just want the sweet essence without the pucker.

I was initially making the cocktail with Giró which people scoff at as they wash counter tops with it, but as far as Gins go, it’s super cheap, has a flavor profile that nods towards Bombay Sapphire and is otherwise very neutral. Thus, a perfect Gin to experiment with. But, once it gets more balanced, time to define it a bit more and thus I found Dragons to be a nice choice as it’s a very clean Gin and offers a smoky touch from the botanicals.

The catch in changing up the Gin is that it upsets the balance overall and in this case, it doesn’t play well with the lemon juice. Well, it’s fine, but let’s not just strive for “fine” and so lets ramp up the lime juice to 30ml and drop the lemon to 20ml which basically means one full small lime and half of one lemon. So where are we at now?

60ml Dragons gin
30ml lime juice
20ml lemon juice
20ml simple syrup
6-8 fresh mint leaves
1 mint sprig

Note that I also backed off the number of mint leaves because what I use here in Catalonia is probably best described as spearmint and it’s wickedly potent. But that’s it. Oh, let’s also rename it. Something from the south, something beach-y… something like the Salou!