Mixology Monday: East Indies Bloody Mary

East Indies Bloody Mary

April’s Mixology Monday theme is the deceptively healthy sounding “Drink Your Vegetables.” From Rowen at Fogged in Lounge:

Want to get more vegetables but you’re always eating on the run?… Well then, how about a vegetable cocktail? No, not that nice little glass of red stuff Grandma put at each place setting—we’re talking something with a kick in it. You can definitely start with the little glass of red stuff and expand it to a Red Snapper-style drink like a Bloody Mary. Or how about a cucumber-scented cooler like a Pimm’s Cup, or maybe a cocktail featuring a vegetable-based ingredient like Cardamaro or celery bitters? Maybe you’ve been wondering if you can get more mileage out of that juice extractor before consigning it to the garage sale. However you get them in that glass, be prepared for the most fun with vegetables ever.

A while back I was tasked with coming up with a creative take on the Bloody Mary. In a town with as many brunches and savvy bartenders as Portland, coming up with something unique and tasty was a challenge; here even the Aquavit Bloody Mary can seem routine. After quite a bit of experimentation with different spirits and spices, I eventually settled on one made with Batavia arrack — a funky, assertive spirit distilled from sugar cane and red rice — and accented with a spice paste inspired by Indonesian cuisine. To top it all off, the cocktail is garnished with house made pickles and a spicy grilled prawn.

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while, so I’m glad to finally have the opportunity. To make it you’ll need a basic Bloody Mary mix, the spice paste, and Batavia arrack.

For the spice paste:

4 tablespoons sambal oelek
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

For the East Indies Bloody Mary:

1 1/2 oz Batavia arrack
4 oz Bloody Mary mix
2 teaspoons Indonesian spice paste
cumin salt rim, for garnish
pickles, for garnish
grilled prawn, for garnish

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice, and strain (but don’t fine strain) into an ice-filled pint glass rimmed with a mixture of salt and ground cumin. Go crazy with the garnishes. A grilled prawn flavored with turmeric and other spices is a good touch. When we served this we pickled various vegetables such as long beans, green beans, lotus root, daikon, and cucumber in the brine from the Indian-style pickled cauliflower recipe in The Joy of Pickling.

Coming up on my to-do list: Trying this spice paste on grilled meat. In the meantime, drink up.

[Photo courtesy of Lush Angeles.]

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Summer competition cocktails

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Monday’s Oregon Bartender’s Guild cocktail competition at Hobnob Grille was a great success, raising enough money for Schoolhouse Supplies to equip an entire classroom of children for a full school year. The drinks were great too and it would have been hard to pick a winner. Somehow the audience did though, and it just so happened to be me. What can I say, Portlanders have great taste in cocktails.

Jennifer has a full write-up of the event with photos at her blog Savor It. Each of the bartenders was randomly assigned two Oregon spirits with which to create their drinks. I ended up with two I hadn’t tried before, Organic Nation gin and Dolmen Worker Bee honey spirit, both of which I like. My first round used the gin and fresh Hermiston watermelon for the Gallagher cocktail:

2 oz Organic Nation gin
1 oz watermelon juice
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz Swedish punsch*
soda

Shake the first four ingredients over ice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with soda and stir. The garnish is a pickled watermelon rind. I used Scott Beattie’s pickling liquid recipe from Artisinal Cocktails and the rind became nice and tasty after just two days of soaking. The drink is perfect for sipping outside in the summer. It’s crisp and refreshing and the smoky aftertaste from the Swedish punsch would go great with a grilled burger.

With round two I turned to the Dolmen honey spirit, an 80 proof liquor distilled from mead. Here’s the Mandeville:

2 oz Dolmen Worker Bee
.5 oz lemon juice
.33 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
.25 oz honey-lavender syrup (recipe here)
1 dash Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
10 muddled blueberries

Muddle the blueberries and syrup before adding the rest of the ingredients. Shake over ice and double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass garnished with berries. This drink has layers of floral tastes without being overpowering and a lingering sweetness from the honey. The crowd really went for this drink. I’m sure the fact that it was their 12th of the night helped it along!

The Mandeville’s an updated and improved version of my old Blue Beetle cocktail. It works well with vodka too, but the substitution of honey-lavender syrup for simple syrup and Scrappy’s bitters for orange flower water makes it much better than the original. Scrappy’s entire line of bitters is worth checking out and if you can get your hands on a bottle you definitely should. It’s made in small batches in Seattle.

The name, by the way, is a reference to Bernard Mandeville, author of The Fable of the Bees. Mandeville satirized British morality by arguing that personal vice often led to public virtue, a fitting allusion on a night dedicated to drinking cocktails to raise money for children.

*Swedish punsch is a classic cocktail ingredient usually made with Batavia-Arrack, tea, sugar, lemon juice, and spices. I claim no expertise on this and my recipe is a simple variation of Max Toste’s, featured in Imbibe back in January. The only difference is that where Max uses simple syrup I use a syrup made of equal parts sugar and lapsang souchong tea. Lapsang souchong is an intensely flavorful black tea smoked over pine wood, which gives the resulting punsch an even stronger smoky character. Here’s the recipe:

9 oz lapsang souchong syrup
6 oz Batavia-Arrack von Oosten
3 oz lemon juice
.25 tsp grated nutmeg
seeds from 10 cardamom pods, ground

Steep ingredients refrigerated for 24 hours then strain into bottle.

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