Golden Lion

Golden_Lion

As further proof that the dream of the 90s is alive in Portland, I’m breaking down and putting an infused vodka drink on the Metrovino cocktail menu:

1 1/2 oz Dolin blanc vermouth
3/4 oz cumin-infused vodka
1/2 oz Galliano
2 dashes Berg and Hauck’s celery bitters

Stir with ice and serve up with a lemon twist.

I rarely create cocktails with vodka. I don’t often drink vodka. And I never, ever buy vodka. As a cocktail blogger I get more free samples of the spirit than I can possibly consume. But when a package arrived carrying not just one bottle but more than four liters of the stuff, I decided I might as well play around with it.

Inspired by Kummel, an herbal liqueur, I set aside some of the vodka to infuse with cumin seeds. The next morning it came out powerfully aromatic with a yellow-orange hue. I was intrigued enough to build a cocktail around it, using Galliano to play up the golden color. The drink is light and savory-sweet, an infused vodka cocktail for the mixology nerds. I thought it might be a bit too weird for Metrovino’s wine-drinking clientele, but in testing it’s played well enough that we’re putting it on the menu. If you want to give it a try at home, here are the specs for the vodka:

1 cup vodka
2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Let steep overnight and strain.

Speaking of vodka, I have to give thanks to Vesica vodka for sending the product that prompted me to try this out. They sent much more vodka than I needed but there are a few things I like about the brand. One, the vodka is perfectly good and the bottles are attractive. Two, it’s reasonably priced and not hyped up with meaningless marketing. Three, the name. From Wikipedia:

The vesica piscis is a shape that is the intersection of two circles with the same radius, intersecting in such a way that the center of each circle lies on the circumference of the other. The name literally means the “bladder of a fish” in Latin. The shape is also called mandorla (“almond” in Italian).

Did you know that? I didn’t know that and I took four years of Latin. I have to appreciate a vodka brand that actually teaches me something. The 750 ml and 1 L bottles themselves are shaped to form a vesica when placed next to each other, which is a neat idea. Recommended.

MxMo MexMar

MexMartinez 016

That’s short for Mixology Monday Mexican Martinez… obviously. This month’s theme as chosen by Tristan at The Wild Drink Blog:

This month’s Mixology Monday is all about twists on classic cocktails, that for one reason or another do an even better job than the drinks upon which they are based.

This could be as simple as a classic Margarita with a dash with a special touch that completes it, or maybe as complicated as a deconstructed Hemingway Daiquiri with a homemade rum foam/caviar/jus/trifle. It might be taking a classic like a Manhattan and using Tequila instead of Bourbon?

Substituting tequila into a classic cocktail is exactly what I’m up to this month. A while ago I mentioned that the pairing of tequila and rhubarb bitters had potential, but I wasn’t quite sure what do with it. Lately I’ve been playing with these ingredients in a variation on the classic Martinez cocktail. Covered in greater detail here, the Martinez is made with gin or Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters. Making a few substitutions, I’ve lately been enjoying this variation I call a Mexican Martinez:

2.25 oz reposado tequila (Chamucos)
.5 oz Dolin Blanc vermouth
1 bar spoon maraschino
2 dashes Fee Bros.’ rhubarb bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a slice of orange zest expressed over and dropped into the drink.

The Dolin line of vermouths is suddenly readily available here in Portland and I couldn’t be happier. The Blanc is a sweet, floral, melony vermouth that’s absolutely delicious on its own. It works well in cocktails too, rounding out the tequila in this one while letting a little bit of lingering heat to show through. The Dolin Blanc complements tequila better than other vermouths I’ve tried, but if you can’t find it in your area experiment with other sweet vermouths. I expect you’ll find tequila makes an intriguing twist on the venerable old Martinez.

Update: What madness is this, two tequila and rhubarb cocktails in one Mixology Monday? It’s true. Michael Dietsch at A Dash of Bitters posts a Margarita variation working in Cynar, rhubarb bitters, and orange flower water. I’m sipping on one right now and can vouch for its tastiness. Check it out here.