14 Aug Summer in the Woods Cocktail
Imagine buttered pan-seared pineapple, warm as a garnish, and chilled as juice in a sensuous champagne coupe. Then let us look back at some of the legacies of the American cocktail — rum and bitters — which are further expressed through the addition of star ruby grapefruits and maraschino liqueur (which was, incidentally, Ernest Hemingway’s preference for his daiquiri).
1 ounce of cachaca (agricultural rum)
1/2 tablespoon of maraschino liqueur
1 1/2 ounces of juice from pan-seared pineapple brushed with butter
2/3 ounces of grapefruit juice (recommended cultivar: Florida Star Ruby)
dash of angostura bitters
For the pan-seared pineapple with butter:
2 tablespoons of butter (recommended: grade AA & First Quality butter)
1/4 of whole pineapple or 8-10 quarter-slices (recommended: high sugar cultivars like Kona Sugarloaf)
Total: about 3 1/2 ounces per serving (guide for glassware)
Small triangular wedge of pan-seared pineapple for garnish
Utility knife and chopping board
2-piece Boston shaker
Glass bottle (perhaps reused from finished spirits, at least 7 ounces in capacity)
Champagne saucer glass (5 ounces), for service
Chill the glassware and spirits until ready for use. Wash fruits thoroughly.
Prepare pan-seared pineapple with butter:
Skin the fresh pineapple, retaining the quarter-slices nearest to the base — the sweetest part. Melt butter in pan and then sear the pineapple slices over low to medium heat until lightly caramelized. Put aside to cool and remove excess butter.
Once cooled, place pineapple slices, one at a time, into the glass half of the Boston shaker. With the flat side of the muddler placed into the base, apply downward pressure using the insides of your palm. Muddle until most solid ingredients are well broken up. Using a funnel and sieve, strain the mixture into the glass bottle. Repeat and then refrigerate till ready for use.
Prepare the garnish:
Reheat a pan-seared slice of pineapple right before use. Cut to a proportionate size and triangular shape. Place along the rim of the glassware while still warm, right before use.
Prepare the cocktail:
For the grapefruit, keep at room temperature and cut perpendicularly across the segments for optimum juice. Juicing should be done right before use, while pulp should be strained out. Measure the required ingredients into the glass half of the Boston shaker.
Top up the metal half of the Boston shaker (about 3/4 full) with ice cubes. Place the glass half over the metal portion while pouring in the ingredients. Give a firm knock on the base of the glass half with your palm, ensuring it forms a tight fit with the metal portion. Shake and chill cocktail shaker with firm, concise and vigorous strokes until your hands can’t take the cold.
Holding the metal half at the bottom, knock it firmly around the rim to loosen and remove the glass half. Strain the contents of the metal half into the glassware using the Hawthorne strainer.
Serve immediately, very chilled, in contrast with the warm garnish.
[Flavor Impressionist’s Notes: 1 ounce is equivalent to 30 milliliter (ml), 1/2 ounce is equivalent to 15 milliliter (ml), 2/3 ounce is equivalent to 20 milliliter (ml), 1/2 tablespoon is equivalent to 7.5 milliliter (ml), 1 dash is equivalent to 1.875 milliliter (ml) or 1/8 teaspoon.]
If Fee Brothers orange bitter is available, replace the angostura with it.
Recipe and photo by Damian Sim.
INSPIRATION FOR SUMMER IN THE WOODS
BY DAMIAN SIM
[Note: This recipe was originally published in July 2007, when we were off on a fun tangent pairing “Main Ingredients” and “Indulgences.” Damian was always up to the challenge — though sometimes we made it a difficult one!]
July’s theme of fish and summer squash did not present any obvious inspirations at first. Furthermore, summer squash, or even squash as a whole, was not something too familiar to the Asian palate. Rather than shy away from it, however, I found summer squash to actually be quite a compelling challenge.
In Native American lore, squash is one of the “Three Sisters” planted by their forefathers, the other two being corn and beans. Summer squash (also known as vegetable marrows) are harvested immature during their growing seasons, and include courgettes and zucchini, to name a few. Known as askoot asquash in Algonquin tongue, it literally translates to ‘eaten green’. Some of these could be described as having a mild nutty taste akin to fresh corn.
This brought to mind the wonderful marriage of freshly steamed corn with lightly salted butter…delicious. It somewhat reminded me of the grilled pineapple I recently had in a Brazilian Churrascaria restaurant, which had a subtle buttery caramel sensation to the flavor. Why not just buttered pineapples? Hmm…not a bad idea!
For the convenience of those who may have trouble grilling at home, another preparation was to pan-sear the pineapple in butter. The sweetest portions of a pineapple are selected, though not an over-ripe fruit as the light acidity offers a nice balance. We then extract the voluptuous juice through muddling once it has cooled down.
With its major influence in the history of spirits and cocktails in America, rum was selected as the base of this recipe design. The Brazilian cachaça style was chosen in recognition of one of the main inspirations behind this cocktail. Star Ruby grapefruits added further zest to cut through the buttered pineapple, with the ‘bright’ cherry of maraschino liqueur contributing to a certain lift and complexity in the high notes. This combination was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s preference for his daiquiri cocktail. A literary legend, he once won a bet in which he wrote a complete story in six words. (“For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”)
The nostalgia continued with the use of bitters, an essential ingredient in the 19th Century definition of cocktails, and the use of the sensuous champagne coupe/saucer to present the libation. Chilled swiftly and with vigor, the floating ice chips contrast sharply with a wedge of warm buttered pineapple garnish.