2 oz. Campari
1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. crème de cassis
Shake and serve up
Found this one in an eGullet post, attributed to Gary Regan’s Joy of Mixology. If you like Campari, as I do, I think you’ll like it. I suspect that the cassis’ influence is so salutary that even if you don’t care for Campari, you’ll quite possibly like the Teresa as well. It’s a deliciously bitter-sour-sweet-fruity affair that has immediately found its way into regular rotation. Ms. Thirsty’s requesting another as I type this.
12/30/2005 : I’ve since acquired Regan’s Joy of Mixology, and should add that he attributes it to one “Rafael Ballesteros of Spain.” Of the Teresa, Regan writes: “I’m at a loss to fathom how this dedicated cocktailian put together these flavors in his head, but the resultant drink is a complex marvel.” I couldn’t agree more.
There are other drinks that appear under this name — Trader Vic’s Knickerbocker Cocktail is just a dry martini with a dash of Italian vermouth — but the Knickerbocker below is a 2:1:1 that proves to be ideal for a mellow summer afternoon. This is, specifically, the Knickerbocker à la Monsieur, from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. Haigh traces its first appearance to Terrington’s Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks of 1869, wherein a version for the fairer sex was also outlined.
1 1/2 oz. light rum
1/2 oz. Jamaican rum
1 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. orange curaçao
1/2 oz. raspberry syrup
Shake with crushed ice, strain into a glass filled with same.
The Knickerbocker isn’t a drink that shows its alcohol, as the raspberry syrup is more than a match for the light rum. Haigh calls for 2 oz of Virgin Islands rum, but I happen not to have any, and so use a light Barbados with a bit of Jamaican, to instill more rumminess to the affair. I’ve followed Doc’s suggestion of using Smucker’s Natural Red Raspberry Syrup. While not quite up to my own definition of “natural,” it does the trick nicely. Of course, dropping a viscous half-ounce slug of pancake syrup into your mixing glass is likely to set anticipatory teeth on edge, but press on to make a happy discovery: the otherwise cloying syrup will be perfectly countered by that tart ounce of lemon juice. It’s a well-balanced, fruity sweet-and-sour.
Served over crushed ice, the Knickerbocker gets longer with time at no detriment to drinkability. Indeed, a few judiciously-applied squirts of seltzer from the outset can be quite salutary, in that they contribute some effervescence and make a bit of a cooler of it. Regarding methods of preparation, Haigh would have us stir the ingredients directly in a collins glass or goblet, but I’ve found the raspberry syrup resistant to stirring. Shaking will ensure homogeneity, and thus no syrupy surprise at the bottom of the glass.
1 cup ice
3/4 cup fresh pineapple
4 oz. Chaokoh coconut milk
1 1/2 oz. dark rum
1 1/2 oz. light rum
1 egg white
2 tsp. bar sugar
8 dashes Angostura bitters
2 pinches cinnamon
2 pinches ground clove
Blend to within an inch of its life. Serves two.
Done. This is about as close as I’m going to come to the Piña Colada I’ve been seeking, and frankly, I’m growing tired of them now. This one is good, though — it strikes the right balance, has the right texture and a much-needed complexity compared to yer standard recipe. The egg… well, it might’ve been too much, depending on how one likes things, but it’s fine by me. I want to add some lime, but there’s no way in hell that’s going to pass as a piña colada. I’ll be throwing in guava next, taking this purportedly Puerto Rican drink through the Panama Canal and deep into the Polynesian Pacific. No, this recipe remains true to its name, with a flavor profile solidly-rooted in the Caribbean. Sailing into temetum incognitum is for another day.
Gleanings? I’ve come to the conclusion that my problems with the Colada have had less to do with proportions than with a consistency of ingredients — the Chaokoh coconut milk is far creamier than the Thai Kitchen, and is probably less creamy than the canonical (yet much processed) Coco López. Short of testing the specific gravity of every can of coconut milk, or making one’s own to an exacting recipe, there’s just going to be inconsistency. There’s probably a fair degree of variation in flavor between one fresh pineapple and the next, too, and at about $12 each I’m not going to be stocking them like I do citrus. I can certainly see why food scientists would feel that there was more than passing utility in a Piña Colada premix, even if it is an abominable transgression against food.
It’s been an instructive experience, I’m glad to say, getting outside of my usual mixing grounds. More of the volume and flavor of a Piña Colada rely on mutable, non-alcoholic ingredients than any other drink I’ve ever made. It’s made me mindful that in addition to their many other merits, traditional cocktails have a certain pure reproducibility about them — a few types of liquor, a bit of fruit and a dash or two of bitters affords one a fairly controlled working environment. Add 1/4 oz. here, subtract a few drops there, substitute or supplant with another liquor that seems right… that’s more my field. I’ll make Piña Coladas again someday — maybe even tomorrow, since there’s an awful lot of pineapple still in the fridge — but I don’t imagine they’ll ever become a standard. With the exception of my Ramos Gin Fizz variant (which I ought to document someday), I’m a largely a 3 – 4 oz. cocktailian myself. The longer concoctions are (rightly) the provenance of Trader Vic, Don the Beachcomber, and their Tiki-worshipping spiritual brethren.
Last week, it struck me that while I rail against the Piña Colada, I had never made one myself. I’d been casting about for something good to do with pineapple juice and had allowed my preconceptions of the Piña Colada to rule it out — to rule out what must be the most widely-enjoyed pineapple-based drink on earth. A gross oversight. After all, shouldn’t one of the guiding principles of domestic mixology be that a thoughtfully-crafted potable, mixed purely for pleasure, will reveal complexities and dimensions which none but the most fastidious professional can match? I say yea, it should be so.
In consequence of this, it must be assumed that the Piña Colada is not necessarily a foully chemical concoction, but is merely a drink suffering from long, cruel abuse at the hands of the service industry. There must be an Ur Piña Colada which contains within its frothy matrix the flavor sensation that captured a generation’s palates and went on to inspire so many imitators.
So, I mixed-up the CocktailDB’s Piña Colada recipe. It’s the simplest there is, and may be the original, though unfortunately they don’t cite sources. Verdict: Blah. Flat, uninteresting and bland. If this was the drink that started it all, I’m surprised at its survival. However, it was a far cry from the others I’ve had, whose origins were likely in a bottle of pre-mix. Pineapple and Coconut did seem to be a worthwhile pairing, and so I tinkered. Continue reading I have found a truly wonderful proof…
3 oz. cachaça
1/2 lime (large)
1 Tbsp. sugar
Cut lime into quarters
Place in bottom of 6 – 8 oz. glass with sugar and muddle well.
Fill with crushed ice, followed by cachaça. Stir.
Cachaça is very much its own beverage — distilled from fermented fresh sugar cane juice, it’s related to rum, but often called a brandy. There is a wide range of qualities — in Brazil, cachaça has historically been a proletarian drink, but a premium market is the rise. Perhaps the most commonly available brand in the US is Pirassununga Cachaça 51, a middle-of-the-road industrially produced cachaça. I wouldn’t care to drink it neat, but it has a peppery, tequila-like quality that makes Brazil’s gift to cocktails, the caipirinha, more like a margarita than its rummy relative, the daiquiri.
Caipirinhas are quite the trendy tipple these days, and they’re fast becoming a favorite of mine as well. Citric, icy-cold and spicy-sweet, they’re not particularly suited to drizzly 50°F March evenings, but I’ll be laying in a respectable supply of cachaça and limes come summertime. There’s a fairly broad variation in recipes … most call for a whole lime, which I find excessive if you’re using large, lemon-sized fruit. The volumes of sugar, cachaça and ice vary as well. The inference one should draw from this is that cachaça is delicious when served on the rocks with lime and sugar.