My goodness, guys. This past Saturday was National Rum Day and everyone was just so, so on top of that game. Cocktail bloggers are an organized and lovely bunch
of coconuts. Me, I’m just a girl standing in front of the Internet asking it: What boozy holiday is coming up next? Is today Wednesday or Thursday? What’s my MySpace password? And do you have a phone charger I could borrow? And who is Grumpy Cat again?
Anyway. Let’s think of this post as being about 362 days early.
It’s a green one: woodsy, a little vegetal, and plenty crisp and bright. I tried a bunch of different variations of it, and even though the final version I’m presenting here is a little fussy (there’s a bay leaf syrup AND an infusion, plus I clarified the lime juice for presentation purposes), I’m happy to report that it is a choose-your-own-adventure-according-to-your-level-of-laziness project. At a bare minimum, infusing the rhum agricole with bay leaves is definitely enough. The syrup makes a difference, but not enough that you should be dissuaded from trying a simple version of this. From there, let your level of motivation be your guide.
Infused spirits and muddling, in my experience, are the easiest route for introducing new flavors to a drink. Syrups are great, but it can be tricky to pack enough flavor in there–because it always comes with added sugar, being syrup and all. I often find myself wanting more of the fruit/herb/whatever taste, but no more of the sweetness.
As for muddling, sometimes it just isn’t an option–like when you’re making more than two drinks. Muddling is all you’re going to be doing that night, my friend, which is not in line with the communal, social, fun spirit of cocktailing. As much as I care about quality when it comes to the business of drinking, I will say this much: if my choices are between a host(ess) who spends all night hand-crushing ice or meticulously pulverizing herbs and a box of wine, I will go for the Franzia (and a handful of ibuprofen the next morning, let’s be honest) without fail.
(Also, confession time: I’ve been that hostess, but I think I’m fixed now?)
Muddling is also not an option when you want a clear drink, as I did here because I wanted to try my hand at clarifying lime juice. Unlike with clear ice, it isn’t so much about taste and quality as it is about looks. It’s pure vain fun, and completely optional.
I hope you get on this–and if you make that syrup, hang on to it! It smells delightful. Plus: no guarantees, but if we have bay laurel syrup, we have to make a cocktail called Bay and Jay, correct? Excuse me while I go hunt down a bottle of Jay-Z’s cognac. Things might get weird.
- 2 ounces bay leaf-infused rhum agricole (see below)
- 1 ounce lime juice, clarified (see below) or not
- 1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup, or bay leaf simple syrup (see below)
- 3-4 dashes celery bitters
- Lime and/or fresh bay leaves, for garnish
- Coarsely chop 3-4 fresh bay laurel leaves and mix with 2 ounces rhum agricole (Clement used here). Steep for 40 minutes to an hour, then strain.
- Heat up 2 ounces of fresh lime juice and dissolve 1/4 teaspoon agar agar in it. (Agar agar is also known as Chinese gelatin, and it's available at specialty health food stores and Asian markets. I found some at Whole Foods.) Simmer for a few more seconds, then add this mixture to 8 ounces of fresh lime juice. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for a few hours--mixture will begin to separate. Strain through paper towel-lined mesh strainer or a coffee filter.
- Bring a cup of sugar, a cup of water, and about 20-25 fresh bay laurel leaves to a simmer. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for about an hour. Strain and discard solids.
- In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine rhum agricole, lime juice, green Chartreuse, syrup, and bitters. Now, here's where I went rogue--because I used clear lime juice and wanted to keep the drink clear, I stirred this. Traditional wisdom says it should be shaken; if you're using regular lime juice, do that. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish as desired.