Monday, October 15, 2007

Creme and Syrup

Every time I visit LeNell's liquor store in Red Hook, I seem to spy a bottle or two that I convince myself I need in order to have a complete liquor cabinet. Yesterday, I went in for some sweet vermouth, but exited not only with the vermouth but some Creme de Cassis and Fee Brothers Red Passion Fruit Cordial Syrup. I had been looking for a Creme de Cassis other than the typical brands founds in most shops, and LeNell's had a 375 ml bottle of Jules Theuriet that looked promising. As for the Fee's, I have plenty of their bitters, but had never before noticed this peculiar product.

I bought both not knowing what exactly I was going to do with them when I got home, but I was sure I'd come up with something. Everyone knows the classic Cassis cocktails the Kir and Kir Royale, but I didn't have any wine or Champagne on hand. Besides, I wanted to try something out of the ordinary. I leafed through my cocktail books and came up with the Arnaud, a drink dating to the 1920s and named after French actress Yvonne Arnaud. It required:

1 oz. gin
1 oz. dry vermouth
1 oz. creme de cassis.

Couldn't be simpler. I stirred the trio with ice and strained it into a chilled cocktail glass. The drink had a certain appeal, but was a bit too much on the syrupy side for me. The Cassis dominated without question. It still seemed like a liqueur, not a cocktail.

From there, I wasted no time experimenting with the Passion Fruit Syrup. Rather than raid the library once again, I decided to consult the bottle's label for ideas. The Fee Brothers suggested a Hurricane and a Tonga Punch, but both were a bit complex and required ingredients I didn't have. I wanted something simpler. So I tried the third option: something I'd never heard of called a Royal Romance. It asked for:

1/2 oz. Fee's Red Passion
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. Gin

For my stomach's sake, I was glad I was staying in the gin family. I shook the liquids as instructed and strained the mixture into a cocktail glass. The Passion Fruit Syrup, like the Cassis, was in the foreground of the drink's taste profile, with the orange of the Grand Marnier close behind. Again, it was somewhat enjoyable, but the mix of orange and passion fruit flavors made my stomach churn a little. The combination wasn't as harmonious as it ought to have been.

I can't say I cared for either of these drinks much, but I'll continue to play with my new toys. I rarely give up on any mixer. Cassis will come in handy, I have no doubt. The Fee's will be more of a challenge. There are all those tiki drinks, of course though they take patience and a ton of products. If nothing else, Fee's says it can also be used as a dessert topping, or to spice up my morning coffee.

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