Spring may have technically sprung a few days ago, but the Alemany Farmers’ Market is still full of beautiful winter citrus fruits, from teeny calamondins to pomelos the size of bowling balls. For the past few weeks they’ve had the most beautiful magenta-colored blood oranges, which has been making me hanker after a drink I call The Apothecary.
A few years ago I entered a cocktail competition sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin. The assignment was to come up with a cocktail that highlighted one of the many ingredients used to flavor the gin, from the obvious (juniper berry) to the less so (infusion of rose petals). In addition, you had to write a limerick about your drink, or Hendrick’s gin, or some related topic, about which the less said the better. I won’t include mine here, because it was dreadful. I’ll just mention I rhymed “uses,” “juices,” and “produces.” Enough said.
After unsuccessfully playing around with cubeb berries, the most obscure ingredient I could find on the list of botanicals, and discovering that muddled cubeb berries taste not unlike a bar of soap, I settled on using orange zest as my featured ingredient.
The following was the recipe I submitted, which in retrospect seems a tad fussy, but the drink isn’t half bad, if I do say so myself. I made it to the finals, where I got to make the drink for a panel of judges. When all was said and done I didn’t place in the top three, but considering I was up against some San Francisco bartending superstars like Jackie Patterson, I can’t say I was surprised.
2 1/2 ounces Hendrick’s gin
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce Mandarine Napoleon
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed blood orange juice
Orange sugar, for rimming the glass (see below)
Piece of orange peel, for garnish
Combine the gin, Aperol, Mandarin Napoleon, lemon juice, and blood orange juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass dipped into the orange sugar mixture. Flame the orange peel over the top of the drink and serve.
Finely grate the zest from 1 blood orange. Spread onto a plate and let dry for at least two hours, or up to overnight. Stir together with 1/4 cup superfine sugar.
If you make this drink, let me know what you think in the comments.