Friday, February 25, 2011

Infused Rickey

After infusion both vodka and gin with shiso leaf for a couple days, I was excited to see how they tasted.  Perhaps I let the infusion go for too long, as both were quite potent.  To balance the shiso out, I turned to a recipe that Shingo Gokan of Angel's Share gave me for inspiration.  He calls for the shiso infusion plus kabosu juice and tonic water.  Unfortunately, the only tonic water I had was flat, and I'm not even sure where to begin looking for kabosu, a Japanese citrus fruit rarely found outside of Japan.  Instead, I basically made a rickey with my shiso-infused gin.

1 oz shiso-infused gin
0.25 oz lime juice
Topped with soda
Stirred and served over large cubes.

A rickey is always refreshing, but the infusion lent an extra dimension, an herbal quality.  I love the shiso, and it is certainly quite distinct from your average rickey. However, the shiso flavor was quite strong, so perhaps lengthening the infusion with an equal part of plain gin would make the shiso appear more subtly.  While this rickey was certainly a simplistic application for now, I certainly am looking forward to playing with this infusion in the future.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I love the taste of shiso.

It is magnificently clean and fresh with hints of mint, anise and pepper.  However, fresh shiso is nearly impossible to find in Boston.  At least, so I thought.  My friend pointed it out to me in the hole-in-the-wall Korean market across the street from Blanchard's in Allston, and I was absolutely ecstatic.  My understanding upon internet research is that Japanese and Korean varietals of perilla/shiso differ slightly in flavor, and I do get a bit of that sense after nibbling on a bit.  Nevertheless, I find it similar enough to call it a successful find.  I've been hooked on shiso ever since stumbling across shiso with sushi, and all the cocktail forms of shiso I've had, particularly at Angel's Share in New York, have been fantastic.

While the bulk of my shiso bunch from the Korean mart went into infusions, one vodka and one gin (the results of which will have to wait for another day), I just couldn't help myself with a bit of instant gratification.  Saving a lone shiso leaf, a fairly large one at that, I decided that something simple and straightforward would be best.

Shiso julep
1.5 oz Four Roses bourbon
Dash of agave nectar*
1 Shiso leaf
Muddled. Crushed ice.

*I didn't have any simple syrup on hand..

Ahh, refreshing.  Shiso works well as a mint substitute, but definitely brings its own identity to the mix.  Despite being somewhat of a purist (I would never make a shiso julep on Derby Day), I really enjoyed this variation.  Probably another shiso leaf would have been ideal, but the lonely leaf employed was sufficient for a nice redolence of shiso.  Another idea that just struck me was the possibility of pairing shiso with applejack, given the slight green apple dimension that shiso can take on.  As with the previous pair of rosewater cocktails, this one was decidedly summery as well.  Alas, the mind cannot but dream.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A rose by any other name

After allowing myself to sleep in yesterday afternoon, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea for a cocktail shortly after waking up.  Discarding the unbearable thought of letting such an inspiration slip away, I headed straight to the kitchen to experiment.  In hindsight, some breakfast (lunch?) would have been a more prudent move.

The Thorough General
2 oz Plymouth gin
0.5 oz lime juice
0.25 oz Cocchi Americano
1 heaping tsp. yujacha*
Dash of orange bitters
Dash of rosewater

(*Korean preserved yuzu. Marmalade could be a decent substitution.)

Spurred on by this tasty experiment, I had the idea of pairing the rosewater with rhubarb.  Then remembering the rhubarb vermouth that Bob McCoy at ICOB had recently let me try, I headed over to see if Bob could make anything of the rhubarb-rose pairing.  When I put him up to the challenge, he came up with:

1.5 oz gin
0.75 oz rhubarb vermouth
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz St. Germain
Dash orange bitters
Dash rosewater

It really did taste a whole lot like late spring, early summer.  The floral notes from the St. Germain and the rosewater combined well with the rhubarb in the vermouth.  Sweet, but refreshing.  Could be dangerously approaching the territory of cloying, but doesn't quite cross the line for me.  Though for drier palates, it may be too much.

All in all, I really like the pairing of gin, citrus and rose, perhaps all the more now because of the glimpse of spring that can be felt just beyond the horizon.  I definitely think that some iteration of a cocktail featuring the rosewater will make it onto some future menu in the coming warm-weather months.  Moreover, I'd be interested to try more cocktails with the rosewater; perhaps a rickey or collins of sorts.  I like the idea of effervescence with rose.  Ah, a rosé sparkler would be all too apropos.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Castella and tea
Snow-watching through the window
Beeping of the plow