2 oz Leopold’s Gin
1 oz Hibiscus-infused Dry Vermouth (recipe below)
0.5 oz Rose Syrup (recipe below)
2-3 drops of Fresh Lemon Juice
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe
Garnish with a rose petal
* * *
There’s an online cocktail party called Mixology Monday. It’s a great idea; once a month, a participating cocktail blog picks the theme and hosts the event. Anyone can participate by submitting a link to their applicable post, which should go up on the Monday of the event. Then, the hosting site puts up links to everyone else’s drinks. As we said, it’s a great idea – participating in a common theme with your peers, generating some traffic, being discovered by new readers. Unfortunately, there is one absolutely unforgivable element to Mixology Monday (MxMo to friends) that has always kept us from participating: we always seem to miss it. The events aren’t consistently “the second week of the month” or the like, and even though I’ve gone so far as to put a reoccurring reminder in our calendars, every month we find ourselves arriving, cocktail equipment in hand, just as the event train recedes in the distance. Until this week, that is.
No, this month was going to be different. Not only did we remember to check for the event in time, we got so excited about it that I wrote this post last Sunday (Mother’s Day) thinking that it had to be up on the 9th, not the 16th. I’m glad that I caught myself, and the post is going up when it should.
As mentioned above, each MxMo has a theme. This month’s was selected by the host, Dave at The Barman Cometh, and is “floral cocktails”. To illuminate, I’ll quote Dave:
The challenge is to feature a cocktail that highlights a floral flavor profile or includes a floral derived ingredient, whether home-made or off the shelf.
Obviously, as you can see from the recipe above, we were game. Although we could have jumped into the MxMo mix at any time (it’s open to all, even if you don’t have a blog), this was the right first event for us, because it was a floral cocktail that contributed to the founding of 12 Bottle Bar. In fact, let’s step into the Wayback Machine – to a time before there was even a glimmer of a 12 Bottle Bar.
Several years ago (about three or four), I was a happy home bartender exploring a few recipes here and there and making drinks for family and the occasional friend (pretty much the same as now, except now I write about it). My most regular “bartending gigs” were at my friend Patrick’s place, on the nights when he’d host a movie and poker. To fully appreciate the extent of “a movie and poker”, you have to have a better understanding of Patrick. I first met him through Brian, one of my oldest and closest friends. Patrick lived down the street from Brian, and when Brian invited me to join him for one of Patrick’s movie nights, saying they were not to be missed, I seized the opportunity. Brian and I had gone to UCLA film school together, and if he was endorsing Patrick, the man must be hosting something special.
As Patrick is a very busy, successful, and talented cinematographer, movie night didn’t just mean crashing on the couch in front of the big screen – no, it meant 16mm reels running on a vintage projector in his backyard, under the stars, and with more snacks than an AMC concession stand. It also meant getting to see everything from archival prints of obscure titles like “Le Doulos” or “Kiss Me Deadly” to Oscar winners like “How Green Was My Valley”. After the cartoons and the feature, it was poker time, when six to eight of us would gather around Patrick’s handmade felt table and huddle over our cards until hours too early to be called late.
I think it was on the second movie night that I attended that I asked Patrick if he’d like me to make some drinks; he was enthused. This became a semi-regular thing – whenever I could make movie night, I’d mix drinks during the following card game, until it got to a point where I stopped playing cards altogether. It was too hard to keep the glasses full and not slow down the game. The point of this little trip down memory lane , other than to lament how much I miss those movie nights, (between Junior on my end and Patrick getting busier and busier, they’ve become less and less frequent) is a drink called the Brass Band.
The Brass Band was one of my earliest creations (1.5 oz Vodka, 1.5 oz St. Germain, a splash of Aperol, and a couple of dashes of Orange Bitters), and Patrick took to it enough that, when he was on set in some far-off locale, if he could find the ingredients, he’d whip up a round for the cast and crew. The Brass Band, and Patrick’s embracing of the same, were really the little sparks that got me interested in exploring cocktails more deeply – which ultimately led to the site before you. The goal of that drink was to capture, in both color and spirit, a rose that sits in my garden — a rose called, strangely enough, the Brass Band. Rather than go off on the history of horticulture, I’ll simply tell you that I am not the gardener in the family – as a matter of fact, I am the only non-gardener in the family – but there’s something special about the Brass Band for me. It’s the only plant in the whole yard that I picked out.
So, when this month’s Mixology Monday presented the opportunity to create a floral concoction, it seemed like a welcome mat for me to step out into the garden once again. This time, however, I picked a different rose – one of the most fragrant among our twenty bushes, and one which happens to have become the favorite of the lad. Like the Brass Band before it, the goal of the Rosemond was to truly capture a flower in drink form. I wanted the color to be like a pink gemstone, but perfectly natural. As I had a martini variation in mind, Gin and Vermouth were going to be my base, so I decided to go infuse one or the other with something that would give the drink a beautiful hue. I turned to hibiscus mainly because it gives up its luster so easily but also because its astringency would marry nicely with a dry Vermouth like Dolin, which I used here. The infusion is easy – I tossed three or four dried hibiscus buds into a cup of vermouth and set the mix in the refrigerator for about three hours, just until the color was right.
As a Gin and hibiscus martini would be too dry for a rose-inspired drink, I decided to add a little sweetener, which also gave me the opportunity to bring in a strong rose element. I placed the (washed) petals of the rose in question in a pot of rich simple syrup, brought the mixture to a boil, then quickly removed it and set it aside, covered, until it cooled. This rose infusion gave me a light golden color (not the pink of the rose) and a syrup with the deeper flavors of the flower. To brighten these up, I added a little rose water and orange flower water, creating something akin to a gulab jumun syrup.
I tinkered with the mixture until I came up with the right proportions, producing quite a tasty drink. The question of whether or not to add a little citrus to combat any lingering “soapiness” from the rose was answered by my mother-in-law, who separately came to conclusion that, indeed, a little lemon juice was just what the drink needed. The result is a very elegant (I think) rose martini – perfectly pink and clear, with a lovely balance between the dry and the sweet elements.
Of course, like the Brass Band, the name comes from the rose which inspired the drink. Here, however, we have a flower named after one of the most famous and celebrated women of the 20th century – a hybrid tea rose considered one of the finest of all pink roses. Elizabeth Taylor. Her middle name was Rosemond, which we think fits this drink perfectly.
Be sure to check out Mixology Monday each month (we hope to remember to participate) as well as The Barman Cometh, where you’ll find links to all of this month’s participating posts. Many thanks, of course, to Dave for hosting.
Hibiscus-infused Dry Vermouth
1 cup Dry Vermouth (like Dolin)
3 to 4 Dried Hibiscus Flowers
Place dried hibiscus blooms in the vermouth
Store mixture in the refrigerator for two or three hours or until you achieve a beautiful pink color
Strain out the solids and keep the resulting vermouth in the fridge
2 Cups Basic (1:1) Simple Syrup
A Handful of Washed Rose Petals
1 tsp Rose Water
2 Drops Orange Flower Water
Place rose petals in syrup and bring to a boil
Immediately cover and remove from heat, setting aside until the syrup has cooled
Strain out the solids
Add rose water and orange flower water to taste/smell – you want just a subtle bouquet
- *Mixology Monday* Spring Romance Series… (mysweetwedding.wordpress.com)