Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Already a Detour?

Last night I was planning to make the guac and blinis... I really was. But it had been a long day, and all I really wanted to do was to snuggle into my chair and veg out on the TV. Hardly an adventurer, but then, we can't always be perfect, right?

Well, enter CameraMan to save the day! He suggested we try another one of the recipes in our book, the 'canyon ranch cocktail'.

Key ingredients include sparkling water, bitters, and, optionally, lemon or lime juice.

Who am I to pass up an opportunity, especially since CameraMan was so good as to prod me in the right direction? And especially since this recipe is so incredibly easy - and a really nice replacement for all the soda I tend to drink.

A little background then...According to Angostura's website, it is made from a blend of tropical herbs in 1824 as a cure for stomach ailments. He started exporting the draft in 1830 to England and Trinidad, where it became quite popular. It didn't, however, make the leap to beverage status until his son, Carlos, got in on the action. Carlos showed off the mix in all the posh spots of Europe at the time, mixing it with gin and other alcoholic consumables, to rave reviews.

The Canyon Ranch cookbook calls this non-alcoholic, which is true based on the volume of angostura bitters to other ingredients, but not true in the most literal sense unless you buy 'non-alcoholic' Angostura bitters. Some angostura is alcoholic - Alcohol (ABV): 45.0% (90 proof), in fact. So, if you are sensitive to alcohol, a recovering alcoholic, or simply uncomfortable with the idea, make sure to use non-alcoholic bitters in your recipe. This wasn't a problem for myself or for CameraMan, so we soldiered on.

If you smell Angostura bitters on its own, its bitter pungency is a little overwhelming. Scratch that. It's a lot overwhelming. To me, it smells like bitter orange essense - sort of like what we use to dissuade our cat from get into things. It's not foul, but its a wave of citrus meets bitter, and probably not something I would drink on its own.

However, when a dash (to taste) is added to a tumbler of sparkling water and a splash of lime juice, it becomes a delightful drink! Refreshing but moderated, with the relaxed, summery sense you get when you drink lemonade on a perfect summer evening, the fireflies floating about like stars in the heavens. You want to sip it, not gulp it like traditional soda, and the pretty, pale pink hue isn't at all reminicent of the kiddie-cocktail you might be imagining. It's like cosmo-light, and you could easily serve it in a martini glass at parties for a really nice non-alcoholic alternative without sacrificing style. You can see that CameraMan and I had no such compulsions, serving ours in a traditional tumbler, and sans the perfunctory lime wedge you would see in a bar, nice restaurant, or tiki lounge. If I were to try serving it to guests, I think I'd serve it with a small wedge of blood orange instead of a lime, though, just to be fancy.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dawn Falcone said...

Hi. I saw your question about R.I. foods over at Debbie's site. I grew up there & have some suggestions. There are a bunch of things that you can only get in R.I. Hot weiners are one, they are kind of like a hot dog but with lots of toppings(have to try it with everything). Be warned- they're good but, you will burb them up for at least a day. If you are going to the beach area you must get clam cakes. A yummy fried dough that is made with fresh RI Quahogs(clams). If you are going in mid April stop by a Del's Lemonade stand. They are in every town. The frozen lemonade is so fresh that you'll even find a lemon peel or two in it. I hope this helps. Stop by my site if you have any questions.

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