Monday, April 25, 2011

Jack Rose at The Source

My wife and I went by The Source, the posh Wolfgang Puck restaurant connected to the the Newseum. My day job has given me the opportunity to eat lunch there a few times and the food is phenomenal. My wife is preggers and has been craving really flavorful foods and so I thought it would nice to do something special and get a few appetizers at the bar. The barkeeper was nice enough to throw together a non-alcoholic fruit medley for my wife that was nice and refreshing. Before the food came, I decided to go with the classic Jack Rose named after the 1920s New York gangster. It's a fun cocktail made with Laird's Applejack, an apple whiskey much like Calvados, lime juice and grenadine. I was reminded that it can look a bit girly, with the grenadine giving is a pinkish/rosy color, but what should one expect with Rose in the name? However, in a nice contrast to the color is a mature flavor with notes of earthy whiskey, sweet apple and tart lime.

The barkeeper got excited when I ordered the Jack Rose saying it was formerly on the the restaurant's signature cocktail menu which gave me the peace of mind that they knew how to make a proper one. When it arrived it had its signature color, served in a cocktail glass with rounded sides. Going against the classic ingredients it looks like they added a bit of raw egg white which gave it a frothy head adding an appealing sophisticated look. I was however a bit disappointed in the flavor. The Applejack, which should be the showstopper, was hidden far behind the rest of the ingredients. I don't know if The Source is trying to appeal to sweeter, more mainstream palates, but the (Apple)Jack was definitely overwhelmed by the Rose. As if the proportions were reversed, what I got was lime and grenadine, which should be used sparingly (for color only). It was fruit punch with mild hints of Applejack.

We ate the stir-fried Colorado lamb in lettuce cups. They were out of this world.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Spring Cocktail

I met a friend last night at the Passenger (yes, I go there a lot) and we wanted to see what they would recommend as a springtime cocktail. What they gave us was called "The Spring Cocktail." It contained Hendrick's gin, soda water, Cocchi Americano and a cucumber garnish. According to Serious Eats "Cocchi Americano is is an Italian aperitif wine that debuted in 1891. Based on a foundation of Moscato di Asti, the wine is fortified and then flavored with cinchona bark, along with citrus peel, spices and other botanicals. Cinchona bark is the original source of quinine, and this substance gives Cocchi a bitter bite." Serious Eats and Tony Cecchini of the New York Times say that it is very similar and could be used in place of Kina Lillet. Cocchi Americano is relatively new to the US market so I was thrilled to give it a try.

The Passenger said it originally created the "Spring Cocktail" as a twist on the Gin and Tonic given Cocchi Americano's use of Cinchona bark containing quinine (a key ingredient in tonic water). The cocktail had a very mild flavor. Hendricks gin is light and sweet to begin with and the Cocchi Americano added a little bitterness and leveled out the drink (almost vermouth-esque). The cucumber garnish added some fresh aroma and brought out the cucumber that Hendrick's gin uses in its distillation. Overall the cocktail had a grassy/flowery flavor, keeping well to its name but may have contained a bit too much soda water which in my opinion diluted its complexity. I would recommend it as more of a refreshing drink that you might have coming out of the heat. It wasn't too sweet and had a clean finish.

Egg-based cocktails

Imbibe Magazine just released some great egg-based cocktail recipes just in time for Easter. They call for the use of egg whites which add a smooth texture and frothy foam on top. The use of raw egg whites is not as dangerous as conventionally thought. They are widely used in many European and Asian cuisines. You may have unknowingly consumed them already if you've been to a nice restaurant that makes a classic Cesar salad (tradition calls for a raw egg yolk in the dressing) or if a restaurant makes their own mayonnaise as well as the royal icing on that special cake. If you are still not convinced you can find pasteurized egg whites at certain stores. I have used raw egg whites many times but I go the extra mile in finding organic, locally and sustainably raised eggs rather than the mass-produced processed eggs found at major grocery store chains. Freshness is key and it will add a whole new dimension to your cocktail making.