The Equinox Cocktail
By Andrew “the Alchemist”
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Happy Autumnal Equinox! Celebrate Autumnalia safely!
(Some nerdy calendar material follows – feel free to skip to the drink!)
One of my madman hobbies is the creation of a natural solar calendar that notes modern and ancient observances and begins each year (at what I feel is the natural time for it) at the beginning of Spring. I also number the years since the beginning of written language and the ability to record history – the time-since being conventionally called the Historic Era (the time-before being called the Prehistoric Era). Since incontrovertible evidence of written language has been found dating back to about 3,400 b.c.e., it could be said that we are in the year 5410 of the Historic Era.
Night and day are virtually-equal today. At 7:09 p.m. (UT-08 – California) this evening, Autumn begins. The ancient Romans would have called any celebration of the Autumnal equinox ‘Autumnalia.’
There will also be the added rarity today of a full moon in the night of the Autumnal equinox. The full moon will occur at 1:17 a.m. (UT-08 – California) after midnight tonight. The ancient Greeks observed the full moon each lunar month with Dikhomenia – a time to honor Cthonic dieties (primal gods in the Earth as separate from the Olympian ‘sky gods’), and to meditate on one’s motivations and face difficult truths. Dihkomenia was believed to magnify the force of oaths, and it was thought especially-bad to break one’s word at this time.
But, on to the drink…
I thought that for celebrating the Equinox, a drink should equally-represent the Northern and Southern hemispheres – since the center of the Sun is in the same plane as the Earth’s equator today. The type of drink I chose was the Cocktail, a sub-genre of the Sling (the Cocktail is famously also-known-as the ‘bittered sling’). Apart from the Ensembles, Slings (including Cocktails) are about as simple to devise as mixed drinks can be.
From the North, I skipped vodka and settled upon Scotch whisky. From the South, I selected the Brazilian spirit, cachaça.
For the bitters (only one of the features necessary in any true Cocktail), I chose Boker’s to represent the North.
I would like to have been able to modify the drink with Caperitif, which was a quina (the other type of aromatized wine besides vermouth) from South Africa. But, that product is long gone.
That left me needing one more ingredient from the South. I decided that passion fruit would be that ingredient.
To make a Cocktail containing juice (whether sour or succulent), it is important not to add so much of it that the drink loses its essential quality as a Cocktail. With too much juice, you have made a Punch or Succulent of some sort. That’s fine – on the occasion that such a drink is desired. But, I want this drink to actually be a Cocktail – so a half-barspoon of passion fruit juice is probably the most that the drink should contain. For the elemental mixologists out there, passion fruit juice is tart enough to be counted as an ingredient of the sour element. The juice can sometimes be found as a concentrate in organic-ish markets. If you can find fresh passion fruit, use it – but you will have to press and strain juice from the pulp found inside the fruit.
So, here it is:
The Equinox Cocktail
Devised by Andrew “the Alchemist”
Service-ware: 4½ fl-oz. glass cocktail goblet (chilled)
Combine in a mixing glass:
→ 1 fl-oz. blended Scotch whisky
→ 1 fl-oz. cachaça (aged, or ‘velha,’ is best)
→ 2 fl-dsh. [≈1.25 ml.] Boker’s aromatic additive bitters
→ ¼ fl-oz. simple 1:1 sugar syrup (or a teaspoon of superfine sugar)
→ ½ bsp. [≈1.25 ml.] passion fruit juice
→ method ice
Stir slowly to mix, chill and dilute
Finely-strain into the service-ware
Garnish by twisting a strip of orange zest over the drink and dropping it in