For this month’s Mixology Monday, “Garnish Grandiloquence” hosted by Joseph Tkach of Measure and Stir, I worked on a recipe I already had jotted down in my notebook for a seasonal cocktail. It read, “something about apple pie and cheddar cheese and maybe cider”. Baking a miniature pie and hovering it over a cocktail, while admirable, was not really an avenue I felt I would go down this time. Oh, also just to back this up a bit and explain. I’m originally from New England and there’s a tradition there of eating a piece of strong, sharp cheddar cheese (I prefer Vermont) with a piece of apple pie. Whether it’s on the side, or a sliver right on top of the crust is up to individual taste. This is a sentimental reminder of home for me this time of year and I thought I could do something with these flavors for a Fall cocktail.
I don’t know my way around a garnishing kit, and even sometimes a vegetable peeler scares me (and it would you too if you took off a piece of your nail once along with a potato peel). But I own a mandoline with a pretty heavy duty safety guard, so my mind went towards using some thin slices of apple, and a hunk of cheddar cheese. Now, one of the issues with taking photos of drinks is that it’s tough to want to start when there is a lot of light out, at say, 8am. So during the late Fall and Winter months, starting a drink requiring lots of photos late in the afternoon is just stupid. As most of your photos will need extra light, a tripod and will ultimately result in blurry photos if not done properly. Clearly this is a rant I am giving to myself. There are many steps to this garnish, requiring many photos. Most of which I am chucking because of light/sharpness issues so I’ll briefly explain here.
If you ever work with apple slices as a garnish do yourself a favor if you want them to stay pretty and white. Get a bowl, fill it with water, squeeze a lemon into it and dunk your apple slices in there. The lemon juice will slow down oxidation and instead of turning brown, your slices will stay fresher looking longer. For this garnish, I peeled one long ribbon of apple peel, and then cut an apple in half and from the center of the apple, sliced it on a mandoline at 1/4″. I cut those circles in half, trimmed the center so they were pretty much equal in size, and threw them in the lemon water to sit and wait.
For the cheese part, I chose a 1/2″ chunk of Carr Applewood Smoked Cheddar. Besides having the sharp flavor down, it has has a lovely smoky scent and taste that, if we’re feeling Fall here, adds to that ambiance. But mostly, it tastes pretty damn good. The peel was used as a ribbon garnish inside the glass, and the apple slices fanned out (pat them dry first), skewered and topped with the chunk of cheddar.
Initially I wanted to have two ribbons of apple peel wound around like a strand of DNA. I sketched it out even and it seemed possible, but real apple peel is not as pliable as one hopes so that idea was tossed. Another issue that was encountered was glass size to garnish ratio. When the first attempt at the garnish was completed, I realized that the drink size was just under 5 oz total, so a giant glass to hold the final garnish dwarfed the actual amount of liquid, so the garnish was cut down a bit to accommodate the actual drink.
And the drink here? That’s also important…
1-1/2 oz. High West Campfire Whiskey
1 oz. Laird’s Straight Bonded AppleJack Brandy
1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
2 oz. J.K’s Scrumpy Organic Hard Cider
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice. Stir and strain into a small chilled rock glass with apple ribbon. Garnish with apple and cheese fan.
This drink is wonderfully balanced, bordering on sweet and smoky. Usually the Campfire is the predominant flavor but here blends very well with the sharp kick of the Bonded AppleJack while the Allspice Dram adds that touch of ‘Fall’ with the clover and spice notes in the finish of the drink. The addition of the hard cider melds everything together and making the apple presence much more noticeable. The garnish provides one additional layer of smokiness in smell and flavor, while the apple slices provide visual appeal and lets you know what flavors you’re in for.
Here’s the roundup post of this month’s MxMo!