Yesterday, we had a bit of fun with our post like we did last year. Today we set aside the pranks to feature two St. Paul destinations related to an original impromptu cocktail. The first is a fantastic little shop on Grand Avenue called Golden Fig, one of the Twin Cities' top prepared fancy food shops. We use their their Vanilla Rose Syrup as inspiration for a cocktail based on a classic sour formula with a few twists. But, of course, we can't really take credit for the recipe which leads us to our second St. Paul destination, Meritage. In addition to a delicious menu and great happy hour specials, Meritage calls itself "a little slice of Paris" and happens to be host to some of the best craft cocktails in downtown St. Paul. We were treated to this recipe by Rob Jones, the creative genius behind our enjoyable evening.
Rob graciously accepted the challenge of crafting our drink using the Golden Fig Vanilla Rose syrup as a starting point. He described his creation as "a margarita, only instead of lime it has lemon, and in place of the orange liqueur this has elderflower, and instead of simple syrup, it uses the Vanilla Rose. . . I guess it's not really like a margarita at all!" Actually, it's a very accurate way to describe the drink. After all, what is any cocktail but a riff or a substitution on another? In this case, the complexity builds wonderfully upon a classic sour formula with a 100% agave tequila as the base.
2 oz Agavales Reposado
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur
.5 oz Gold Fig Vanilla Rose syrup
3 drops rose water
Shake with ice and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a large twist of lemon peel.
Rob used Agavales tequila, but you can probably get away with another reposado. Any decent 100% agave aged spirit will bring some nice complexity to the drink and possibly a little smoke flavor, depending on what you use. The sour is attained using lemon which is balanced with the syrup and a bit of St-Germain. Rather than allowing the elderflower to compete with the rose in our syrup, Rob adds just a touch of rose water to boost that flavor a bit. The cocktail is definitely better for it. This drink is everything we look for in an impromptu refresher. It's balanced, it highlights the base spirit, and it allows the choice of modifiers to hold their own without taking over what is both tasty and complex.
Not everyone will have the opportunity to swing by Golden Fig, and you may not even live anywhere near St. Paul, but if you have just a shred of resourcefulness, you might be able to reproduce your own rendition of this syrup. Fresh vanilla beans are easy to find and you may even have luck tracking down dried rose petals. If so, your own infused simple syrup may become an acceptable facsimile. But if you do live in the area, avoid all of that work and just stop by the shop to fill bag or two with fancy ingredients you can use when you get home. Then, venture downtown for happy hour and let the bartenders at Meritage take care of you. You'll be glad you did.