One of the most common things people say to me at the bar is that it must be fun coming up with all the different cocktails. And don’t get me wrong… it’s a ton of fun. But the process for me is likely to be a lot different than you might imagine.
Most of the time I’ll start off fairly broad, I’ll look for a gap in our existing cocktail offering. Sometimes it’s a simple as, ‘we aren’t doing any rum infusions’ (and the raspberry daiquiri was born) or maybe I’m looking for something seasonal (just finished a smoked walnut whiskey based Manhattan for the winter months). Sometimes I just have some random infusions lying around and I need to find a way to use them.
I’ve mentioned before that when I started working at Chinched, the house cocktails were based on berry preserves; mostly partridgeberry and blueberry. When I began making infusions, partridgeberry and blueberry were the first ones I tried. Using the sous-vide I found a recipe that seems to work quite well for most berries: 2 cups of berries per 750ml of base spirit. Purée the berries into the spirit and place them in the circulator for 4 hours, chill the liquid after taking it out of the circulator and then strain out the berry pulp.
The partridgeberry infused vodka found an immediate use replacing the partridgeberry purée in the Newfie Twist (to be covered in the future). The blueberry purée was being used in a Blueberry Margarita, so the blueberry infused vodka wasn’t an appropriate substitute there. So what ended up happening is that for a while the blueberry vodka sat idle, dejected and alone.
The experimentation is where the challenge lies. The blueberry is a pretty classic Newfoundland berry, but I wouldn’t say it has a long history in the cocktail world. When I think of blueberry and classic cocktails the only thing I can come up with is ‘Blueberry Tea’ which coincidentally doesn’t even contain any blueberries (it’s 1oz Amaretto, 1oz Grand Marnier and hot orange pekoe tea).
So for the blueberry vodka I wasn’t quite sure where to go. I tried a blueberry lemonade which was good but not great, tried a blueberry cosmo with white cranberry juice which was also good, but it reminded me too much of the Newfie Twist with blueberry instead of partridgeberry.
Where I got the idea I went with was from a dish we were serving at the time. On our desert menu was a classic Crème Brûlée with blueberry and cardamom compote, and that compote was delicious (the Crème Brûlée was good too). After toying around with the blueberry vodka, cardamom spice and a touch of Disaronno the Blueberry and Cardamom Martini was born.
The recipe I ended up going with was 1 ½ oz of blueberry vodka, ½ oz of Disaronno, ½ oz of cranberry and orange juice, the juice from half a lime, with about a ½ tsp of cardamom spice. Shake it over cracked ice and strain into a martini glass.
This one is intriguing. The flavors involved mix wonderfully to create something that is truly unique. The Blueberry, Cranberry and Citrus give the martini and interesting fruit character, the Disaronno helps add sweetness while it combines with the cardamom to provide a nutty backdrop for the fruity flavors. I’ve struggled trying to come up with a way to describe the flavor for BB&C Martini, the best I can come up with is spiced candied blueberries but I feel like even that’s a bit lacking. I guess the only way to know for sure would be to drop down and try one for yourself!