The Great Minnesota Get-together
It's that time of the year again when Minnesotans make their annual trip to the State Fair. It sounds so old fashioned, but if you live in the Twin Cities, you already know that folks around here take it very seriously. It's not all pigs and agriculture, although they have that too. I tend to keep my distance from anything that smells like a barn, but it's either that or the deep fat fryers. Everyone seems to enjoy something different at the Fair, and some of us just look forward to all of the food. Old habits die hard. For instance, every year, I make my way to Sweet Martha's Cookies where I buy a bucket and walk it over to the "all the milk you can drink" stand. And every year, someone in the crowd says, "Whoa, what a great idea—chocolate chip cookies and milk!" Thanks. Glad I thought of it. For other people, it's all about trying that new food experiment—often "deep fried", "on a stick" or both.
This week, I'd like to feature an adventurous idea that I see occasionally online but that, until now, I had never bothered to try. In the spirit of Deep Fried Twinkies, or Chocolate Covered Jalapeños on a Stick, I thought it might be fun to mix a couple of drinks using Angostura Bitters as the base spirit. Some of you are reading this and saying, "yeah, that old thing. . ." but have you actually tried it? I am talking about the aromatic bitters dashed into cocktails like the Manhattan or the Old Fashioned. It's not meant for regular consumption in larger quantities. As we have discussed before, there are cocktail bitters and potable bitters, and it's important to recognize the difference. Well, it's State Fair season, and if someone is willing to make Chicken Fried Bacon on a Stick, I don't see why I can't make a drink with a little extra Angostura Bitters, especially since I found myself a nice 16-ounce bottle!
Ango is bitter. There's no question about that, but in tiny doses, you don't really notice. It also has strong spice flavors which is why it works so well in small quantities. But what a lot of people don't realize is that it's almost 90-proof! That's right. Your aromatic bitters is more potent than the typical bottle of vodka. I figured, what's a little bitterness with some strong aromatic spices? I already love Italian Amaro, so how is this any different?
1 oz Angostura Bitters
1 oz Plymouth Gin
.75 oz lemon juice
.75 oz ginger syrup
1 egg white
club soda to top
Add all ingredients except the ginger ale to a shaker. "Mime" shake (without ice to build up a nice foamy emulsion). Add ice, shake thoroughly and strain into glass with fresh ice. Top with seltzer.
Technically, a Fizz isn't supposed to be served with ice, but I am actually glad I kept it in the recipe. As my ice melted, the drink mellowed, so don't be afraid to really shake this one. You aren't likely to dilute the flavor. My version calls for ginger syrup which you can make yourself, but you can use simple syrup and top with your favorite ginger beer (but why would you?). The result is a potent, spicy highball that is silky smooth (despite the fizz), and has a bitter/sour edge with just the right amount of sweetness to balance it out. The egg white gives it a wonderful texture and the foam is obviously scented with aromatics. I was actually surprised how good this is. The ginger gives some backbone to the cinnamon aroma and I am sure the gin is doing a little magic too. It's not something I want to drink regularly, but I'm glad I finally made it. It's like the first time I tried maple syrup glazed Big Fat Bacon at the Fair. At first it sounds disgusting, but once you are eating (and enjoying) it, it makes perfect sense.
For the more adventurous among you, I will also share the concentrated Angostura Sour. This one is very similar to the Fizz above, but it really goes for the gusto using just the Angostura, leaving the gin and ginger behind. It's served up instead of on the rocks with seltzer, so this one goes in a slightly different direction. Maybe give this a try before you fill up on fried food. On the other hand, either one of these might be just what you need to settle your stomach. See you at the Fair!
1.5 oz Angostura Bitters
.75 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 egg white
Pour the egg white and lime juice into a shaker and "mime" shake without ice for 30 seconds. Add the bitters, syrup and ice and shake hard for another 30. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.