Above: The Dampier Cocktail garnished with half a finger lime on the rim.
During the Experimental Mixing Symposium this past Saturday, a good number of drinks were made by the students using some relatively-unusual citrus that I had on hand. The two species that made the biggest impression were Citrus junos (or, more accurately Citrus ichangensis x. Citrus reticulata), the yuzu (or Japanese citron); and Citrus australasica, the finger lime.
Everyone loved yuzu juice in drinks. It is about as sour as Eureka lemon juice, but with a very different flavor — a little delightfully funky and with hints of vanilla. I think that every drink made on Saturday using yuzu juice as the sour element was enjoyed by all. The season for ripe Yuzu fruit is from late November until about the middle of December. The Mud Creek Ranch people usually have some for sale at that time. During the rest of the year, bottled yuzu juice must be used. As long as you are willing to pay for first-pressing juice imported from Japan, the quality should be fine. For mixing in drinks, avoid any yuzu juice that is second pressing or features English words on the manufacturer’s label! Also avoid the little bottles that contain salt as a preservative! You want 100% pure, first-pressing, yuzu juice. Here is one to look for:
Bottled yuzu juice also lasts at good quality for much longer than lemon juice. The bottle we used on Saturday was opened eight months ago and was still absolutely delicious.
When I think of yuzu drinks, I first think of the great drink made last December in session six of the Standard Drinks Course by chef Tony DiSalvo, then a student. Thank you, Tony! For lack of a better name, I call it the Salvation Sour. The name Sushi Sour has also been suggested and this drink would surely go better with sushi than any sake served in any way! One student exclaimed, “Now I want sushi!” In addition to yuzu juice, you will want Hendrick’s gin and arraks punsch extrakt (with which you can compound your own superior Swedish punch liqueur by mixing it with an equal part of vodka):
Here is the recipe. Click on the image to enlarge it. If you get together the ingredients, I guarantee that you will love this drink — and that it will blow away anything made by some professional ‘bar creature’ with his infused arugula syrup and oily walnut bitters.
Now, from all of the rare citrus drinks made this last Saturday, two really stood out for me. The first one I call the Dampier Cocktail. I imagined it and, tasting it with my mind’s tongue, suggested it to the students. It is nothing more than a Gin Cocktail accented with the tart finger lime. We tried it with twice as much finger lime and it was good, but somehow the flavor of finger lime went from an interesting and unusual accent to a less interesting lime hammer. Imagine a vaguely finger lime version of the sour known as the Gimlet, and that’s about what it was. I preferred the true cocktail version. Here it is. Click on the image to read the naming logic in the note below the drink.
Another good drink was made by student Rachel Blum. It was the Yuzurinha — a Caipirinha with yuzu instead of lime. I expected that to be good, and it was. But, the drink that surprised me by being so delicious was the result of student Chris Hain’s inspiration to make the Oxford Milk Punch with yuzu instead of lemon. I suggested that Chris use honey mandarine (in season now and on hand on Saturday) instead of the orange juice in the Oxford Milk Punch. This drink was truly good. I call it the Cavendish Milk Punch for reasons legible in the notes below the recipe if the image is clicked on.
I have kept the Salvation Sour to my courses since December and really thought about not sharing any of these newer drinks with a wider audience. I don’t like it when hard-to-find ingredients become even harder to find! But, these drinks are just so damned good that I could not justify keeping them from anyone.
Those of you who bother to get the ingredients and make these drinks will discover why they must be shared.