March 8, 2011

"We're gonna make it the Las Vegas of Asia…"

I've been rewatching my DVDs of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" lately, and grumbling about how all the brilliant shows get cancelled…"Firefly," "Studio 60," "Sports Night," while the long-in-the-tooth shows that are seldom (if ever) funny last for-frakking-ever. Anyway, I digress.

Ed Asner's character in "Studio 60," the Chairman of the fictional NBS network, plans to get in on a deal with a consortium of companies and turn Macao (or "Macau" if you prefer, as Wikipedia seems to) into a fantastical destination. Already noted for gambling and tourism, I guess they would've installed a Universal Studios park and a Hard Rock Café and declared victory or something, I dunno. But…it got me thinking…

I wondered what a Manhattan would be like with a slew of disparate influences on it. I mean, Macao was a Portuguese colony in Chinese territory, a port for any number of exotic cargos…what would that have done to, or how would that translate to, a whiskey and vermouth based drink? And so, after jotting down some notes, I came up with this:
Macao Cocktail

2 oz blended whiskey (I used Canadian Club)
3/8 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz Trader Tiki's Orgeat Syrup
1/8 oz Trader Tiki's Don's Spices #2
1 barspoon ginger liqueur
2 dashes Acid Phosphate
Dash of Donn's Tinc
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Dash of Bittermens Burlesque Bitters

Stir all ingredients smartly with ice, strain into cocktail glass, and garnish with a brandied cherry and a flamed orange zest.
So first thing to note is that this is going to start off sweet. The syrups and the ginger liqueur will guarantee that. Which is why I brought some things in to counter that: the acid phosphate for one. Made and sold by Darcy O'Neil from The Art of Drink, this brings sourness without any citrus juice. (I was going for a non-cloudy drink here.) Secondly, Bittermens new Burlesque bitters is a blend of açai berry (sweet), hibiscus (tart), and long pepper (long. I mean, 'hot') which further complicates things. Plus you've got the other bitters, the vanilla and allspice notes from Don's Spices #2, the almond of the orgeat, the grapefruit and cinnamon from Donn's Tinc, and the little bit of heat from the ginger liqueur.

It's a complicated drink. It's polyglot. It's multicultural. But it's sophisticated. And nuanced. And I think it's a fairly good invention.

Macao Cocktail


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