"The evolution of the cocktail has been a wondrous, and sometimes, frightful journey. From its humble beginning, to the "Dark Ages" of most of the later 20th century, to the now herald "Platinum Age" of the cocktail, master mixologists and enthusiasts alike have elevated its grandeur using the best skills, freshest ingredients and craft spirits & liqueurs available. But with all this focus on "craft" ingredients and classic tools & form, it seems we have become somewhat pretentious. The focus on bitter Italian amari, revived and lost ingredients such as Batavia Arrack or Creme de Violette, the snickering at a guest ordering a Cosmopolitan or a Midori Sour; has propelled us into the dark realm of snobbery. Many scratch bars and Speakeasies have gone as far as to remove all vodka and most flavored liqueurs from their shelves. Some even go as far as to post "rules" that may alienate most potential imbibers. Remember, the bar was created with pleasing one particular group in mind: the guest. As such, this month's MxMo LXXI theme, From Crass to Craft, will focus on concocting a craft cocktail worthy of not only MxMo but any trendy bar, using dubious and otherwise shunned ingredients to sprout forth a craft cocktail that no one could deny is anything less. There are a plethora of spirits, liqueurs and non-alcoholic libations that are just waiting for someone to showcase that they too are worthy of being featured on our home and bar shelves. So grab that bottle of flavored vodka, Jagermeister, cranberry juice, soda, neon colored liqueur, sour mix or anything else deemed unworthy of a craft cocktail, and get mixin'!
And with that, I had a flashback. A younger me...less wise, less mature, better looking...and most definitely, completely clueless with respect to spirits and cocktails. Yes, even in my more 'advanced and sophisticated' stage, I failed miserably in retrospect with those 'vodka martinis' (of course, no vermouth, shaken to death, with tiny ice shards atop the final result). Yet what of another drink that was a regular for many, including myself? The good 'ol Captain and Coke. You know the drill...a nice pour of the Captain over ice, a spritz of Coke, perhaps a wedge of lime...that was a cocktail, right? As I now contemplate this combination, there is certainly more potential than the flat and sickly sweet version of days gone by. The two primary components, Captain Morgan (usually purchase by 'the handle' in my days) and Coke, can widely be considered staples of any bar and certainly fit the 'crass' definition. Which then brings me to 'craft'. To some, it may be debated, but in my mind, in relation to cocktails, 'craft' simply refers to those that are well thought out, balanced, and perhaps most importantly, those combinations which highlight the ingredients involved and treat them with respect. With all this in mind, I moved forward.
In the right proportions, the Captain and Coke might represent a simple variation of a rum sour, yet I needed a slight tweak to really strike the right balance. It started with the Coke. A single can of the stuff has about 40g of sugars, roughly 10 teaspoons or 1.5 ounces. Reduce it, pair it with just the right amount of lime juice and zest...and a version of a lime cordial is the result.
12 oz Coca-Cola
2 oz fresh lime juice
Zest of two limes
Pour the Coke into a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a slight simmer. Reduce the cola by around 50% (ie 6 oz), remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Add the lime juice and fresh lime zest, stir, and store covered in the fridge overnight. Strain into a fresh bottle the next day and store in the fridge.
Next up, the cocktail itself. Along with the obligatory Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and cordial, I picked up on the baking spice element with a small amount of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram as well as a couple dashes of Bittercube Jamaican #1 bitters, which provided nice hints of ginger and subtle black pepper.
3/4 oz Coke-lime cordial*
1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
2 dashes Bittercube Jamaican #1 bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until very well chilled. Strain into a pre-chilled old fashioned glass over a large cube of ice.
A simple, straight-forward cocktail using two 'crass' components, as well as a 'craft' version of an old favorite of many, the C2 represents one of my interpretations of this month's MxMo...definitely looking forward to seeing other's ideas and be sure to check back here for the round-up. Many thanks go out to Scott for a great theme, cheers...