Liquor publicists e-mail me cocktail recipes very often. Most of the time, I pay no mind, because these formulas are rarely of the highest order. Typically, they find a way to recommend using a good 2 or 3 ounces of the promoted intoxicant, combined with vodka and some other ingredient that they just happen to also represent. Viola! Marketing as Mixology!
But when a couple recipes from the Dubonnet people came through the wire, I paid some attention. Why? Well, because that bottle of Dubonnet of mine just sits there. Doing nothing! I want to use it, I do. But how many Operas and Deshlers can I drink?
Also, the press missive had an attractive angle. It was promoting the use of local ingredients, specifically windowbox herbs—of which I have many. And I dearly love using them. (I know this is ironic, since, in this effort to utilize local food, I am working with an apertif wine that is imported from France, but hey....)
The second of the two recipes, a Dubonnet Mint Julep, was the less exciting of the two because, well, it was a Dubonnet Mint Julep. Not that it wasn't delicious. It was absolutely delicious! But I knew exactly how it would taste before I even made it. Not much excitement there. But, as I said, very good, so give it a try (I used simple syrup instead of sugar, and lessened the proportions because I wasn't interested in getting blotto so quickly):
2 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
3 oz. bourbon
1 teaspoon sugar
Handful of mint
Muddle mint with sugar then add ice, Dubonnet Rouge and bourbon. Stir rapidly to mix. Serve in a julep cup.
The first recipe, called Summer Thyme (hee hee), was much more interesting. As you might guess, it involves thyme: one spring shaken up with the Dubonnet, vodka, lemon juice, salt and pepper; and one spring as garnish. Here's the formula:
1 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
2 oz. vodka
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
In a cocktail shaker, combine Dubonnet Rouge, vodka, one thyme sprig, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake vigorously with ice. Pour into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with a lemon slice and second sprig of thyme.
The taste, I must say, is remarkable. This is a vodka cocktail that has real personality, and the thyme makes all the difference, going beautifully with the flavors of the Dubonnet, and adding endlessly intriguing herbal notes. (Thyme must be one of the secret components in Dubonnet's makeup.) A very elegant drink.
Now I know what to do with my Dubonnet.