Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mixology Monday, July 2015: Ice, Ice Baby, part 2

Well, it's a bit late in the week to still be making with the wild-and-craziness (however much I might still feel it). It's not quite Mixology Monday, but that's ok, we're all in the middle of that straggler-pick-up period before the round-up post makes things official. Have I mentioned I'm hosting this month, with our theme being the delectable "Ice, Ice Baby"? Here's the part of the announcement I'm using today:
It doesn't even have to be pure H2O, either. Flavor it up! Teas, juices, liqueurs, bitters, other frozen edible objects serving as ice. Tell us the nuances of a properly-made Il Palio. Show us why a decorative approach takes your recipe to the next level. Whatever tickles your tastebuds and refreshes you this summer.
Would you believe the cocktail up above was actually a back-up draft idea after a separate frontrunner idea (using bittered ice) fell through on Saturday? And furthermore, this is one of those mamma bunny draft ideas that keeps spawning new ones, of which this is the second or third to see the light of day (Squeaky Frog being the first, impromptu honeydew-infused Hendrick's G&T the second) and it's still not exhausted.

The part of the idea being used today? I quote, "LILY-PAD-SHAPED-ICE?!?!?! Hibiscus flower garnish!". I must not have had enough coffee in me.

But while I'm doing some linking, I should note that this is a very crowded idea-pond already. Ginfluence lists a Lilly Pad with gin-pickled red onion, Richard Boccato has done a definitive Last Word-structured Water Lily, The Straight Up has a falernum-inflected Lily's Pad, Joel Finsel gave us the gingery Lotus, and our own Fred Yarm gave us the basil seed eye-popper Frog Pond.

In all, you see a lot of recurrent ideas: gin (especially Hendrick's), blanc vermouth, violette, maraschino, cucumber, mint, green tea, lemon juice. What's more, even if you step outside the pond, following violette recipes results in much of the same, mash-ups between the Aviation and the Last Word.

So how to do a lily pad ice cocktail while doing something original? Well, the ice is going to be original regardless, so to make it green like a lily pad, why not use mint-noted honeydew juice (because it infused poorly in the Hendrick's) and build from there? Something not-too-boozy felt right for the idea, and the above-linked Water Lily hit me with an idea - someone on Kindred Cocktails had remarked that it was a Corpse Reviver #2 variant, but that wasn't quite right since there was no Lillet-esque ingredient in it. But that exact structure didn't seem to be claimed yet.

With a bow to Claude Monet, I give you:

3/4 oz gin (Magellan)
3/4 oz bianco vermouth (M&R)*
3/4 oz crème de violette (R&W)
3/4 oz lime juice
Honeydew Lily Pad Ice

Shake. Strain. Add ice garnish. Let melt gently to begin infusion.

Light honeydew, citrus, faint vermouth herbs, and mint whisper to your nostrils.
To your mouth, you get honeydew mint ontop of citrus, with various gin/vermouth shadings underneath and a violet finish.
The honeydew is essential to the cocktail. 3/4 oz of lime juice is a heck of a lot, but the melon soothes that acidity to something much more bearable, while at the same time melon's weirdness gets reined in as well.
* Lillet was too sweet and untextured here, no matter how euphonious it would be in a Lily cocktail. Vanilla/blanc vermouth connected all the parts beautifully.

Honeydew Lily Pad Ice
Ingredients: 3/4 oz to 1 oz fresh honeydew juice, 1 jarred hibiscus flower cocktail garnish (rinsed) or other appropriate flower garnish

1. Start by making fresh honeydew juice. Half of a 3 lb melon, seeded and rind removed, yielded approximately 1 cup of juice for me after an initial press/puree and fine-strain. You do want to fine-strain to get the solid particles out, lest they affect the cocktail's texture.

2. Get a baking tray, doesn't have to be big. Layer some kind of paper like a paper towel or napkin and then a sheet of wax paper over it (the paper helps prevent ice formation beneath the wax paper, which will cause your ice pad to stick until it's too late). For an ice mold something simple, circular, and with minimal edges for ice to stick to is needed. It also needs to be an appropriate size for your cocktail serving glass. I used a biscuit/cookie cutter here.

3. To the mold, add an initial layer of honeydew juice, 1/4 to 1/2 oz. Just enough so that when it freezes, the bottom edge of the mold won't leak if more liquid is added. Also, it needs to be enough that your hibiscus flower won't automatically sink through.

To this, and it doesn't have to be a piece of rhubarb like I used here, add a little wedge of something that won't negatively affect the flavor of the ice while it freezes. It's an aesthetic tweak to help create the quasi-heart shape of a lily pad. A piece of honeydew melon would obviously be a good option.

4. Freeze the bottom layer in the freezer for at least a couple of hours. To help keep the liquid from leaking as it freezes, try weighting the mold down with something that will apply even weight. (I used a filled pre-frozen Tovolo ice cube tray)

Once the bottom layer is frozen, position your floral cocktail garnish near the center and add the remaining 1/4 to 3/4 oz of honeydew juice to the mold. Immediately move back to the freezer and let finish freezing for several hours.

5. Once fully-frozen, you may not wish to use the ice pad immediately, so try covering it with a small cup or plastic bowl until ready to use.

Once that moment arrives, remove from the freezer and either let sit a moment until the ice can be shifted across the wax paper or run a little water around the edges to help speed up the softening (make sure to pour off the water before removing the mold!).

6. Once the mold is removed, gently pry away the wedge to leave the ice pad intact.

If you have a hearty hibiscus flower like this, you can actually lift it by the petals into the cocktail to prevent melting and messy fingers.

And I'll let you in on a secret. You see in the final cocktail picture how the ice floats perfectly in the coupe, despite the flower being slightly off-center? I slipped a 1" plain water ice cube underneath to help balance it. Not only does it balance, but its added chilliness prevents the thin ice pad from melting too quickly. Don't let unwieldy cocktail flowers get you down!

A great big thanks to Fred for letting me host again and to everyone who participated! It's a blast to get to do this monthly cocktail jam session with everyone. On to the round-up post!