Friday, September 21, 2012

Oregon Daiquiri


Oregon Daiquiri

2 oz. White rum
3/4 oz. Lime juice
1/2 oz. Hazelnut syrup
2 dashes Bittermen's Xocolatl Mole bitters

Shake everything with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

The Oregon Daiquiri is a drink I came up with a while back. I wish I had some grandiose story of how I drew inspiration from a variety of sources, labored for days on the concept, and tweaked the recipe incessantly in the pursuit of the perfect drink. But that's not what happened. What went down is more or less:

1) A brand rep kindly sent me a bottle of rum (In this case, Banks 5 Island)

2) I had hazelnut syrup handy and wanted to see if it would taste good with the rum.

3) I added some lime juice and realized what I'd made is essentially a Daiquiri.

Welcome to mixology, kids. Sometimes that's all there is to it.

Back to the Daiquiri. The Daiquiri is a classic cocktail, and like many of the classics, it uses few ingredients to achieve superb results. Like I often do, I'll avoid going into the history and various incarnations of this drink, since lots of other booze geeks have worked very hard researching and publishing this information elsewhere. All that's really important to know is you should use good rum, fresh juice, and mix it properly.

In other words, don't screw up a simple, easy-to-make, delicious classic drink. Prominent bottle jockey Jeffrey Morgenthaler felt so strongly about this he recently made a video titled "How to Not F@%& Up a Daiquiri". It should be required viewing for anyone who thinks the ideal Daiquiri is pink and comes out of a machine with whirly parts.

Of course, not everyone loves a Daiquiri. On the other side of the fence is Bernard DeVoto, acclaimed author and historian who left no doubt as to his feelings on the Daiquiri in his cocktail manifesto The Hour:

"Now, bathtub gin was not a good liquor- though, gentlemen, there have been worse and still are. But it was not bathtub gin that came close to destroying the American stomach , nervous system, and aspiration to toward a subtler life. Not the gin but the fruit juices so basely mixed with it: all pestilential, all gangrenous, and all vile. A cocktail does not contain fruit juice.

In that sudden roar the word you make out is 'Daiquiri.' Yes, yes, I know. I have alluded to rum before, we must not deny that it exists and is drunk, and as a historian I must give it its due. It gave us political freedom and Negro slavery. It got ships built and sailed, forests felled, iron smelted and commercial freight carried from place to place by men who, if their primordial capitalist bosses had not given them rum would have done something to get their wages raised. In both cheapness and effectiveness it proved the best liquor for Indian traders to debauch their customers with. People without taste buds can enjoy it now, though the head that follows it is enormous, and such sentimentalists as the seadogs of small sailing craft can believe they do. But mainly it is drunk as all sweet liquors are, in a regressive fantasy, a sad hope of regaining childhood's joy at the soda fountain. No believer could drink it straight or gentled at the fastidious and hopeful hour. No one should drink it with a corrosive added, which is the formula of the Daiquiri."

A pretty harsh assessment, but given that there were only two drinks DeVoto considered worth consuming (the Martini and a belt of straight American whiskey), the Daiquiri didn't stand much of a chance. He also utterly loathed rum (and took a dim view of those who drank it), so that didn't help matters either.

But it's a great drink nonetheless. If you want to make the one shown above, white rum is pretty easy to come by, but make sure you get a relatively good one. Limes shouldn't be hard to track down, so don't cut corners- get your juice straight from the fruit! As for hazelnut syrup, I used Torani, since that's what I happened to have at the moment. Another choice is B.G. Reynolds hazelnut orgeat (and I'm not recommending them just because I drew the label's good stuff). And you always have the option of smashing up a bunch of hazelnuts and making your own syrup ... if you're one of those make-your-own-ingredients kinda people.

Lastly, the Xocolatl Mole bitters are a tasty little ingredient with tons of uses. They can be found online at many places including Cocktail Kingdom, Boston Shaker, and Kegworks.

Oh, and I called it the Oregon Daiquiri because although I've never been to Oregon, I know several nice people who live there and they tell me that hazelnuts are a big deal out there. Again, sometimes that's all there is to it.