By Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.” – Patrick Suskind, Perfume
In the Bay of Bengal lies an archipelago of islands known as the Andamans. The sea breeze flows across the warm, tropical sands and rainfall come heavily during monsoon season. The islands are home to the aboriginal Ongee people, whose lives are structured not by what they see or feel or hear, but by what they smell: the shifting odors of the various flowers as they bloom create a literal “calendar of scents” that chart the year. Each season is named for a specific odor; each season has a unique “aroma-force”. Moreover, the Ongee don’t ask “How are you?”, but rather, “How is your nose?” as a form of greeting. Their world is defined by how it smells.
This past week, for Mixology Monday, we challenged colleagues to create a drink around the theme “Come to Your Senses”. And, while visual presentation played a major role, it’s no surprise that many of the drinks relied on our sense of smell with smoke-filled glassware, aromatic herbs like mint and basil, and potent ingredients like orange flower water and hops. There’s no question that a cocktail that smells good tastes even better.
a 12 Bottle Bar original
3 oz Gin-Key Lime Sorbet
2-3 dozen Micro Melon Balls
2 oz Leopold’s Gin
4 oz Tonic
1 large stalk Mint
Make the sorbet per the Hot-Frozen Gin Fizz recipe, substituting key lime juice for the lemon
Scoop out the melon balls, making them small enough to fit through the boba straw
When the sorbet is ready, add approximately 3 ounces of it to the bottom of a large glass
Return the glass to the freezer, allowing the sorbet to set and the glass to thoroughly chill
Just before serving, add the melon balls to the glass
When serving, pre-mix the gin and tonic, then add to the glass
Add the mint and boba straw
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If there’s one thing I can tell you, having run through a number of drinks for today’s Mixology Monday post, it’s that if you’re dead set on serving your drink in a scientific beaker or flask, don’t make the drink yellow. It’s a small point but one which I quickly realized as I poured a pineapple syrup-based cocktail into my vessel of choice. As this month’s theme is “Come to Your Senses” – chosen by us, given that Paul Clarke was kind enough to allow us to host the August mixer – and the goal is to create a drink which inspires a sense beyond just taste, a beaker full of frothy golden liquid arouses reactions best left unspoken.
Fortunately for everyone involved, we ditched the pineapple and went in a different direction. As the ones who set the theme, we of course figured that we should challenge ourselves to incorporate as many of the five senses – sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing – as possible into our entry. This meant breaking out the molecular mixology playbook and working our way through gels, foams, mists, solids, cotton candy, deconstruction, reconstruction, and many other big words. After several false starts and abandoned recipes (the pineapple concoction), we decided to think outside the science kit.
2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz Rich Demerara Syrup
0.5 oz Kübler Absinthe
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe
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It easily goes without saying that the greatest reward of doing this site is the people we get to meet. Not only have we formed some lasting real-world friendships with the kind of folk who otherwise wouldn’t be caught dead in public with the likes of us (it’s all quite Breakfast Clubby at times), but we have assembled a cadre of loyal readers who keep us sharp with probing questions like “Hey, why is there only one Absinthe drink on the Drinks page?” Readers like Dominic. Continue reading
Admittedly, I may have missed the episode, but I don’t believe that Leonard Nimoy ever went “In Search of… The Toasted Punch Biscuit”. But he should have, because the toasted biscuit has been at the center of one of my greatest cocktail mysteries, and I for one, would have watched the show, copied it, and bought the deluxe edition DVD when it hit the street. And, he would have saved me a good deal of research – not to mention several dozen eggs. On the other hand, I’m glad that Nimoy never went down that road because he would have denied me the joy of hunting down a singularly elusive bit of drink history.
The first question I’m sure you have is “What is a toasted punch biscuit?” As luck would have it, I shall tell you. During the 16th and 17th centuries, things were changing on a global level, as merchant-focused companies from most of the sea-faring European powers set off in all directions. They brought all manner of wonders back to the continent – furs, cocoa, spices, as well as new beverages like coffee, tea, and punch. In his seminal book Punch, David Wondrich tells us that the first written reference to punch was made on September 28, 1632, in a letter from one Robert Addams to his colleague, Thomas Colley, both Englishmen stationed in India. Over the next two hundred years, punch would become ingrained in the culture – specifically in English culture, and as the English had long enjoyed dunking toast in their ale drinks, it should come as little surprise that they soon started adding toast and toasted biscuits to their punch (as well as, to be fair, to their coffee and tea). Continue reading