I first tasted candied ginger vodka at Zen 32, which used the Modern Spirits line in its cocktails. Sadly, neither restaurant nor distillery is around today, so it was up to me to re-create the spirit myself.
“Our kitchen looks like a science laboratory,” Mr. Brooks said as he perused the lineup of glass 2-liter jars on one of the kitchen counters. A few months ago I had begun making the tangerine version of limoncello by steeping the citrus peels in vodka (as pictured at right); in late February I added a jar in which pieces of crystallized ginger were receiving a similar soaking. After a month, the ginger had swelled to its original size; I debated whether to keep the alcohol-soaked nuggets around as boozy chews, kind of like the “cherries from hell” (which were soaked in Everclear) back when I was back in college. I even tried mashing one or two in a garlic press to try to extract as much liquid as possible, but ended up just making a mess.
Instead, I strained the vodka through cloth to keep it clear and poured it back into a swing-top bottle, which went straight into the freezer while I debated what to pair my new creation with. I had noticed that while the ginger notes were quite strong, there was none of the sweetness usually associated with candied ginger. But I didn’t want to tamper with the vodka any further, so I decided that could addressed during the actual creation of any drinks made with the vodka.
Which happened to be Friday night, when a friend from Flagstaff was in town and I offered to host a round of predinner drinks at my house. I ended up pouring it over ice with a splash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur (sweet!) and topping it all off with lemonade. (No shaking! There were 10 people to serve.) At first I tried to add some agave syrup as a sweetener, but quickly discovered that the icy beverages turned the syrup kind of blobby, and they didn’t need its sweetness anyway. When I remembered — read: after the first three glasses were poured — I rubbed a lemon wedge along the rim of each glass and dipped it in lemony sugar for a little extra sweetness.
The end result was, if I do say so myself, delicious and stood up to the vow I made to David Monkeyclock earlier in the day when I sent him a picture of a handsome young guy wearing a suit, with the caption: “I’m making the cocktail version of this guy: looks classy, probably strong and makes you want to take your clothes off.”
|WHAT SAM WORE: 3-31-12|
|The shirt and tie: University of Montana Grizzlies T-shirt, a gift from my sister Tammy.|
|The pants: Corduroy shorts, on sale at Lucky Brand, Chandler.|
|The shoes: “Top Winner” sneakers by Puma, from the Puma store in New York.|