Monday, March 7, 2011

Turn of the Century

Grocery shopping over the weekend turned up two ingredients that combined fruitfully in this riff off a classic cocktail.  First, I bought some fresh thyme because I needed some for the dinner I was making and had some left over.  Second, there was a gorgeous assemblage of Meyer lemons, and since they are in season, I couldn't resist getting several.  As I was looking through various recipes to decide what to do with my lemons, I saw a recipe for Meyer lemon and thyme truffles.  While the bulk of my lemons may get turned into preserve or limoncello, I decided to juice one for a cocktail, instant gratification and all, to try out what seemed to be a rather fortuitous combination.  As a starting point, I remembered the 20th Century cocktail in Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, which calls for:

1.5 oz gin
0.75 oz Lillet Blanc
0.75 oz lemon
0.5 oz crème de cacao
Shaken, lemon twist.

I then remembered a brilliant thing that Shingo at Angel's Share does with thyme in his Tennessee Waltz cocktail.  He brulées the thyme with a kitchen torch to use as a garnish.  However, its not a mere garnish, as the heady aroma of roasted thyme accompanies each sip.  Thus, I combined the two ideas in this remix.

1.5 oz gin
0.5 oz Cocchi Americano
0.5 oz Meyer lemon juice (generous)
0.5 oz crème de cacao (scant)
Dash orange bitters
Meyer lemon peel
Shaken, roasted thyme.

I wanted to capture the idea of the Meyer lemon and thyme truffle that had served as the inspiration.  The nose was heavy with the scent of roasted thyme with a touch of lemon oil.  The cocktail itself certainly was on the confectionery end with a brief initial impression of gin and lemon quickly giving way to the sweetness of the crème de cacao.  However, the lemon's acidity certainly lingered on the palate after the notion of bonbons subsided.  The Meyer lemon did make the cocktail less sharp than I remember the original made with lemon being.  Also, despite being merely the garnish, I could swear that a tint of roasted thyme appeared somewhere in the swallow.  All in all, a pretty delicious nightcap.  Perhaps a dish of fish with thyme, lemon and cocoa is in the not too distant future?

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