IMG_4281Sometimes you’re in the mood for one of your favorite cocktails and then, to your horror, you discover that you don’t have a key ingredient. What to do? You try a substitution and see what happens. ūüôā

Even with our extensive bar, we don’t always have all of the ingredients that we need for a cocktail that we want to make. This especially happens when we’re¬†in the mood for tiki. Who has lychee nut liqueur on hand? Not us. Yet. ūüėČ When we run into this issue, we start trying substitutions. Most often, we’ll¬†try to find something that has¬†a similar flavor profile to the missing ingredient.

Some time ago, we were looking for something to use cachaca and pineapple juice in. We came across the recipe for the Leya¬†which almost fit the bill. The one wrinkle was that we didn’t have fresh basil. However we did have fresh mint, so we substituted that and it was quite delicious. We remained curious about the original though, and tried that too next time we had the chance. Also delicious. That said, we¬†found that that one smallish substitution makes a big difference for the drink’s flavor.

IMG_4280Leya (Basil) by Ricky Gomez

  • 1 1/2 oz cachaca
  • 3/4 oz pineapple juice
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz basil syrup (*)
  • 1 bar spoon Allspice Dram

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a basil leaf. Enjoy!

(*) Basil syrup: Put 1/2 cup basil leaves and 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Pour 1/2 cup almost boiling water over and stir until sugar dissolves. Cool to room temperature. Strain out basil leaves.

  • Nose: Pineapple, bracken, lime, hay,¬†hint of basil
  • Palate: Hay and¬†bracken notes from the cachaca along with¬†pineapple to start. Sweet basil on the mid-palate, followed by a big hit of tart tangy lime that dries things out a bit. Allspice on the finish. Sweetness varies notably, starting off lightly sweet, spiking¬†at the mid-palate and then drying out.

Leya (Mint)

  • 1 1/2 oz cachaca
  • 3/4 oz pineapple juice
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 bar spoon Allspice dram
  • 8 – 10 mint leaves

Muddle mint in the bottom of the shaker. Add other ingredients. Shake with ice. Double strain into a glass. Garnish with a mint leaf. Cheers!

  • Nose: Lime and mint dominate, along with hints of grass and some faint pineapple
  • Palate: More grass than hay notes from the cachaca to start, though the spirit is overall¬†more muted than the original version. Mint and lime pick up as the finish closes and continue into the mid-palate. Pineapple underpins them but like the cachaca is¬†muted. Tart lime from the mid-palate into the finish like the original, but not as strong and a little more sweet. Allspice on the finish.

Both versions are quite tasty. To our palates, the mint version is smoother and more integrated, but the individual flavors get lost a bit. The basil version lets the individual components speak up more, but the transitions between the flavors are more notable and the finish is more intense in terms of acidity. It surprised us that that one change can make that big a difference on the whole balance of the drink. Sure, we would have expected it to taste like mint instead of basil, but changing the overall character of the drink was more than we expected.

The big takeaway is, don’t be afraid to change up a recipe when you come across one that sounds good but you don’t have all of the¬†ingredients. At worst you’ll learn one more thing not to do, and sometimes you’ll get a pleasant surprise.


This entry was posted in allspice dram, basil, cachaca, lime juice, mint, pineapple juice, simple syrup and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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