For the first drink, we started with a bottle of retsina that we had lying around. We tasted it with a handful of spirits, and went with vodka, since its clean, slightly sweet taste didn’t overpower the relatively delicate wine. Then we tried a few mixers to add complexity, and settled on the grapefruit liqueur as it added a little bitter-sweetness without stepping on the retsina. We tried adding a little touch of grapefruit bitters as well, but that was too much, so we decided to leave those out. We still wanted a bit more resin flavor than the retsina was providing on its own though, and turned to rosemary to add that. Muddling some in the shaker provided a nice boost. Initially we mixed it in similar proportions to a martini, thinking to use the retsina like a vermouth, but we lost some of the resin flavor that way. So we went with more of the proportions we would use for a wine spritzer, and that was the ticket. We had a light, clean cocktail with good resin flavor, and enough else going on to be interesting.
- 1 oz vodka
- 1 oz Pamplemousse Rose or other grapefruit liqueur
- 4 oz retsina
- 2 sprigs rosemary
Muddle 1 sprig rosemary thoroughly in shaker. Add the liquid ingredients. Shake with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with the other sprig of rosemary.
- Nose: Rosemary, pine sap, grapefruit juice and peel.
- Palate: Opens with pine sap from the retsina, then grapefruit and rosemary. Wine and a bitter grapefruit bite on the finish along with some faint caramel-y sweetness. Surprisingly light bodied, but with plenty of resin notes. The resin provides an interesting substitute for astringency, and we think this cocktail would probably pair really well with food. Might make a nice palate cleanser if you’re eating something rich like cheese.
For the second drink, we wanted to bring out the juniper in gin, and also wanted to use one of our local evergreens. We settled on cedar because of its wonderful scent, and also because Christa has a bunch located conveniently close to the back door 🙂 Once we had decided on that combination, we thought the spiciness of Angostura bitters and the complex camphor-y flavors of fernet would underpin the aromatics of the resin-y ingredients well. We mixed them all up and they were delicious but a bit dry, so we added in a teaspoon of simple syrup to sweeten it up just a touch.
- 2 oz juniper-forward gin
- 1/2 oz fernet
- 1 tsp. simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 cedar sprigs
Muddle a cedar sprig in a mixing glass. Add the liquid ingredients. Shake with ice. Double strain into a glass. Garnish with the other cedar sprig.
- Nose: Cedar, juniper, cucumber, coriander, slight menthol/camphor smell of the fernet
- Palate: Camphor, mint, juniper and cedar to start. Sweetness on the mid-palate with interesting mint and lemon balm notes. Really nice bitter bite towards the end, then the spices from the bitters and more cedar. Long bitter finish.
We hope you enjoy our first two entries for this months MxMo. As the hosts we felt we should get the party started 🙂 We feel that both of these recipes showcase the interesting versatility of resinous ingredients in cocktails. The Achaean is quite light and refreshing and we think will pair quite nicely with food, whereas the Raven’s Wing is quite strong and somewhat of an acquired taste. Probably more of an after dinner drink.
We may possibly have another resin-flavored cocktail next week, along with who knows what else 😉 In the meantime, cheers!