Friday, March 25, 2011

Apple-Strawberry Nirvana

I worked at a bar a couple of years ago where Apple Martinis, vodka lemonades, and red bull/vodkas reigned supreme.  We eventually implemented a fresh juice program and started to tweak the cocktail list, adding drinks with fresh ingredients and quality spirits.  "Can I get an Apple-Tini, or how about a Strawberry Lemonade with some vodka in it?"  When asked this at the bar, I would kindly say "Well I can't make you an Apple-Tini because we don't carry that Apple Pucker stuff here.  As for the Strawberry Lemonade with vodka...how about I combine apple and strawberry together into one delicious, hand-crafted cocktail for you, using fresh ingredients?"  If they were up for it, they got an...

Apple-Strawberry Nirvana

1/2 oz. local honey syrup (equal parts local honey and hot water, mixed well)
3 Strawberry halves
A scant bar spoon of Burlesque Bitters (a zesty little thing comprised of hibiscus, acai berry & pepper) I originally used a bar spoon of Absinthe, but when these bitters recently came out, I fell in love with them and changed my recipe!
Muddle
.75 oz. Fresh, Unfiltered, Cloudy Apple Juice*
.75 oz. fresh lemon juice (I love tart, citrus-driven drinks, so for my personal taste, I add about a bar spoon more lemon)
.5 oz. Egg White
2 oz. Clear Creek Eau De Vie De Pomme, 8 Yr. Old Apple Brandy
Dry Shake for 20 seconds
Add ice; shake again for 20 seconds and then fine-strain into chilled cocktail glass
Garnish:  place a half-slice of strawberry on top of a thin, half-slice of apple.  Float in center of the drink

* Trader Joes usually carries a couple different types of cloudy, unfiltered apple juice most of the year.  But if you own a Juiceman Juicer or something similar, make your own tasty, cloudy, unfiltered juice at home.  Red Delicious apples work well, but play around with different varieties of apples to achieve some different flavor profiles in your cocktail.  Have fun with it!

Now let's talk about some options.  If you're working in a busy bar and muddling fresh fruit is not practical for your particular establishment, you can make a great red apple cocktail by creating a home-made red apple puree in advance.  Start off by making a tiny portion of puree.  Experiment with portions until you get it just right:  core a fresh, red apple and cut into smaller pieces; add a tiny dash of simple syrup; a little fresh lemon juice; some POM brand pomegranate juice; and a splash of 100 proof vodka to help preserve the puree.  Mix well in a blender or food processor until you have the consistency of a puree.  Come up with a recipe that creates a flavor profile that works for you and the majority of your guests, and then multiply that recipe to make a large batch of fresh, home-made puree.  Store in the frig, and test the puree each day before use to ensure freshness.

For the cocktail:

- Gin, Vodka, or Calvados
- red apple puree
- Schonaeur German Apple Schnapps (do not use apple pucker!)  
- fresh lemon juice
- A dash of Baked Apple Bitters
- Shake well with ice
- Fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass
- Garnish with a thin slice of red apple floating in the center of drink

So you have 4 primary ingredients with a little dash of bitters.  It's a quick and easy hand-crafted cocktail using fresh ingredients, and it's bursting with red apple flavor.  Crowd pleasing with mass appeal.

Cheers!

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