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Drink Of The Week: Jasmine

This week, we feature another bitter-sour combination in the Jasmine cocktail. If you enjoyed the Campari Sour a few weeks ago, this drink is similar, although it is more complex and has no egg white. If you thought the Campari Sour was simply too bitter, you might really enjoy this drink instead. It's a lot more accessible because the bitterness is no longer taking center stage, giving a little room for the other ingredients to share the spotlight.

There are a few recipes floating around for the Jasmine cocktail. Most align on the ingredients with differences in proportions. I tried several of them and zeroed in on this one because it "evolves" in your mouth. Other cocktail recipes can be more forgiving of quarter-ounce adjustments, but here, tiny changes to the measurements (or inaccurate pouring) will transform the experience dramatically. For one thing, this is more than just a basic sour.  Cointreau is a sweet orange liqueur that faces fresh lemon juice, but there's also bitter Campari lurking behind it. I normally like recipes tweaked toward the sour side, but looking at the proportions below, you might think there's too much sweet for so little sour.

Jasmine
1.5 oz gin
1 oz Cointreau
.25 oz Campari
.25 oz lemon juice

Add ingredients to a shaker. Add ice, shake until cold, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The interesting thing about this drink is how the lemon and Campari tend to "gang up" on the sweet Cointreau. When you take your first sip, the sweet orange hits your tongue strong and you suddenly fear you made a mistake. Then, the sugar seems to wash away as if transformed into a wonderful, dry finish. The gin is doing something in the background to make everything dance on your tongue, so a bold London Dry will work nicely. Before you know it, you are already swallowing your second confirmation sip, and well, it's hard to put this drink down. In one version I tested which leaned toward heavier proportions of Campari and lemon juice, I found myself puckering with every sip. The sour-bitter was overshadowing everything else. I have also seen folks swear by a 3:1:1:1 ratio, but I like how my version here tells a story as it leads you through each flavor.

6 comments to Drink Of The Week: Jasmine

  • James R. Coplin

    We recently stumbled across this bizarre fruit at the Seward Coop called a Buddha's Hand.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha's_hand

    It is incredibly fragrant. I infused some Plymouth Gin with one and it is amazing in a Jasmine - especially with the addition of a small amount of Canton or ginger syrup. The Buddha's Hand is so strong it only took 3 days to infuse fully.

    • I saw the picture you posted on FB. It's an odd fragrant citron. I have seen it a few times but never used it for anything myself.

      I've done a lot of citrus infusions and it rarely takes very long to get a good amount of flavor. Two weeks ago I made limoncello in less than three days! Of course, that was very high proof, but even vodka infusions go quickly. It would be interesting to try making Buddacello.

      I'll have to grab hold of Budda's hand next time I see it offered!

  • Paul

    Randy, this cocktail is one of my faves for a long time. I agree that small variations in the proportions translate into big differences in the result. That's why I am surprised to find how far away your proportions are from the ones I use. I have tried many variations, but settled on the same recipe that the drink's inventor, Paul Harrington, published in his book, "Cocktail: A Drinks Bible For The 21st Century."

    1.5 oz gin
    1/4 oz Cointreau
    1/4 oz Campari
    3/4 oz lemon juice

    Up till now the only variation that I really enjoyed was using more gin.

    Ah, well. I guess I have to make a couple of Jasmines and compare them. Quel dommage!

    • I guess I had forgotten that this was a Paul Harrington cocktail. It has been a while since I had one of these, but given dramatic effect of changing the proportions, I wonder if our tastes have evolved. In other words, if I try one now—almost four years later—I might be wishing for a lot less Cointreau. Still, yours has three times as much lemon as liqueur. Campari is very sweet, but I would expect the bitterness to intensify the pucker not balance it. I need to try this again too.

  • Pat

    Yum. I just tried your basic recipe with a splash of my own vanilla infused ginger syrup. A very nice result indeed - the downside is that the sweet tends to hump out at you even more.

    • The jasmine cocktail is already a balanced classic. I am not surprised that adding syrup of any kind makes it sweeter. That would make sense. Also, the vanilla in your syrup probably adds an illusion of more sweet as it often does.

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