The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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50  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2015 MIXOLOGY F or those who are reading this publication, you know you're in the right place at the right time for our industry. The modern bar scene is an ever-expanding and innovative field. Bartenders have evolved into creative mixologists—chefs, if you will. I consider myself to be a liquid chef, con- stantly searching for new flavor combinations and seasonal ingredients, trying out new meth- ods and techniques in order to create perfect balance and depth of flavor in my drinks. One of my favorite ingredients to use in my cocktails are shrubs. Shrubs, though rela- tively new to the cocktail world, date back to Colonial American times. They are essentially a balanced mixture of sugar, fruit and vinegar. Before refrigeration, vinegar was used in the preservation of berries and other fruits in the off-season. Typically, the fruit or berries are left to macerate in sugar for one to several days until the sugar is liquefied. Once this process occurs, the berries are strained out and an equal amount of vinegar is added to the mix- ture. The end result is a concentration of flavor with brightness from the vinegar, balanced by the sweetness of the sugar. On its own, they can be lovely as "drinking vinegars" or as a shrub soda, made with the addition of soda water. This is, in fact, how the colonial Americans used shrubs. In my cocktails, I find that a shrub adds a vibrant acidity and a surprising new layer to enjoy. Although classical shrubs are made from fruit and berries, in modern liquid culture, you'll find we make them from most anything edible. Different vinegars and sugars, as well as honey, can be played with to create end- less unique combinations. In addition to the aforementioned cold-press way of shrub-making, there is also a cooking method, wherein dry ingredients are mixed with the vinegar and water, and heat is used to infuse the vinegar and to dissolve the sugars. The cooking method is basically making an infused simple syrup using vinegar in place of water. One of my favorite creations—and one of the most popular at Morimoto Napa—is my Flower Bomb, a nigori Saketini with a lavender shrub. The Flower Bomb is, like the name suggests, an epiphany of floral essence with a playful acidity and a velvety mouthfeel. There are six ingredients that dance together in this cocktail, but the star of the show is definitely the lavender shrub. As I continue to expand my knowledge and hone my craft as a liquid chef, I will always have a special love for shrubs. The sharp acidity and concentration of flavor is one that has excited and inspired me to create unique and progressive libations. Acid Trip Pictured here, with her shrub-inspired cocktail, The Flower Bomb, Jules Smart is a mother of two and a 20-year veteran of the restaurant/bar industry. She is currently part of the bar program at Morimoto, located in downtown Napa, CA. by Jules Smart / photos by John Curley SHRUBS ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF CREATIVE COCKTAIL CULTURE Lavender Shrub Recipe ◗ 1 cup dried lavender flowers ◗ 4 cups white granulated sugar ◗ 4 cups rice wine vinegar Combine all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat until sugars are dissolved. Remove pan from heat. Cool the mixture. Strain out the flowers and store in a glass bottle. The Flower Bomb A Lavender-Infused Saketini ◗ 2 oz. nigori saké (unfiltered and heavy variety preferred) ◗ 1 oz. premium vodka ◗ ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice ◗ ¾ oz. elderflower liqueur ◗ ¼ oz. lavender shrub ◗ 2 dashes of orange blossom essence water Combine ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake and double strain into a chilled, lavender sugar*–rimmed Martini glass. Garnish with flowers of choice. *Lavender Sugar: Combine 4 cups of sugar to ½ cup of dried lavender. Cover and store for 24 hours or until the lavender essence is infused into the sugar.

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