For this month’s MxMo, let’s make the whole range of vinegary things fair game. And I’m not just talking about throwing some olive juice into a Martini. Making a balsamic glaze for your pork chops? Save some for the bar. Want to have a good time and treat your psoriasis? Reach for that bottle of apple cider vinegar for your next cocktail. Got some favorite pickles? Use the juice as a component.
We’ve used switchels & shrubs before and were very happy with the results. But this was an interesting riff on that idea so we were looking forward to seeing what we could come up with.
First off, we decided to experiment with balsamic vinegar. We pulled out one of the nicer ones made with wine vinegar and cooked grape must, the Giuseppe Giusti 3 Gold Medals. This way of making the vinegar adds more complexity and, as we understand it, more closely mimics actual balsamic vinegar without having to spend $200 for a small bottle. The Giusti has a good sweet-tart balance with hints of molasses and port wine, and a heavy, viscous body.
With this as a starting point, Christa immediately gravitated to Grand Marnier as a pairing. This worked exceptionally well, balancing the vinegar’s acidity with fruit and sugar. We then tried various base spirits to round out the recipe, including cognac, blended scotch, and Canadian whiskey. The cognac was a gimme, given the brandy-based Grand Marnier, but that said it was delicious. The other two worked and had some interesting things going on (which makes us want to experiment some more with them), but neither of them were as nice as the cognac, so we stuck with that. Once we got the proportions sorted out, all we needed was an orange twist to tie it all together.
- 1 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
- 3/4 oz cognac
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Stir with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
- Nose: Orange peel, cooked orange, rich grape-y cognac, vinegar that comes across as slightly tannic in addition to the acid (like fresh cut wood), grape must, oxidized wine like port.
- Palate: Intro is strong sweet/sour orange. Mid-palate is rich grape spirit flavors from the cognac along with hints of caramel and honeysuckle. Finish is cedar, sweet orange and rich port wine. Slight bitterness like fresh cut wood on the aftertaste.
For our second drink, Shaun gravitated towards rice vinegar. For the base spirit, we tried both gin and a rice whiskey that we have. The gin was nice, but essentially we were heading towards a dirty martini which didn’t seem all that exciting. The rice whiskey however worked great, with its malt-y, grain-y notes pairing well with the vinegar and pulling out more vanilla notes. If you don’t have rice whiskey, Irish whiskey makes a good substitute. With that as the base, we reached for some creme de cacao, as we felt the chocolate flavor would pair nicely with the malt-y, grain-y spirit. We were not disappointed. The drink still needed a bit of sweetener though, as the creme de cacao we use is fairly dry, so we added a bit of simple which helped balance things out. Finally, a few drops of Angostura added some nice baking spice notes to round the whole thing out.
- 1 1/2 oz rice whiskey
- generous 3/4 oz creme de cacao
- 1 shy tsp. rice vinegar
- 1 bar spoon simple syrup
- 4 drops Angostura bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass.
- Nose: Vinegar, chocolate, malt grain, vanilla.
- Palate: Chocolate and a bit of bright but not overwhelming acid right on the front. Mid-palate is slightly sour savory/toasty grain. Finish is dry, with grain-y malt and actual chocolate malt notes.
Both of these cocktails turned out rather nicely in our opinions. The vinegar helped complement and pull out notes in the other ingredients to make for a richer, more interesting cocktail.
Thanks to Adam and as always thanks to Fred for keeping the home fires burning. Looking forward to seeing what other folks came up with. Until next time. Cheers!