What I mean is something straightforward. SomethingÂ you don’t need a timer to make, or cheesecloth, or 48 hours to wait until you can drink it. And for this month’s Mixology Monday theme of “The Unknown”, I have just the recipe. Chris from A Bar Above has dared us all to work with an ingredient (or technique) that we have never worked with before and I spent over a week thinking about just what I would do.Â
And then I had an answer: I chose balsamic vinegar. Yes! That liquid you pour on your salad! Actually, this has been on my ideas list for some time now, but the opportunity never really came up to make something with it. I’m distinguishing this from shrubs, which I have used, because in those cases I made the shrub and also because I haven’t used grape musts before, which is the base for the balsamic I am using. The one caveat here is that I am using a reduced balsamic, which is more of a syrupy consistency. I was initially going to reduce a balsamic vinegar for the recipe but I’m trying to be simple, and I love the flavor of the one I have on hand. So, there you go…one less step.
Balsamic vinegar by itself is a pretty powerful ingredient.Â Even in this condensed, sweeter form, Crema di Balsamico still sings back to its vinegary beginnings. So I had to find another powerful star for this drink, and for that I turned to mezcal. In fact, all of the components to this drink are stand outs, but together in the cocktail they somehow work to balance each other out. They all become team players here instead of divas.
So let’s crack into the Unknown and make a drink.
1-1/2 ounces mezcal, Montelobos used here
1 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
3/4 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce Crema di Balsamico
grapefruit peel for garnish
- In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine mezcal, grapefruit juice, Aperol and balsamic. Shake hard to mix well (that balsamic might need some help getting out of the jigger too) for about 25 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a grapefruit peel.
While the mezcal does provide a hefty backbone to this drink it doesn’t overpower the whole. Grapefruit gives a bit of sweetness and also a touch of bitterness while the crema di balsamico adds the essence of “tang” instead of “vinegar”. Aperol was a later addition to the drink and ended up connecting the dots of the cocktail, roundimg out the flavors and making them work well together.
Big thanks to Chris this month for hosting Mixology Monday and as always to Fred for keeping it alive. Looking forward to everyone’s submissions.Â
Wow, that’s a lot of Balsamic!
I have used a barspoon of balsamic in strawberry margaritas, it wasn’t a dominant flavor but brought some complexity just like a bitter would.
I’ll give a try with heavier doses…
Well done, Elana!
Thanks! Well, here’s the thing. While maybe you could hold back if it was straight balsamic vingear, with the reduced stuff I’m using, the crema di balsamico, it becomes sweeter as it is concentrated (in fact, I believe there is some sugar added in the final process as well), so while it still has its vinegar qualities, it’s more subdued in that aspect. Hence, the 1/2 ounce. If you’re uncertain about adding that much, or want to use regular balsamic as opposed to the reduced kind, start off smaller. Although, I’ve used shrubs in as much as 3/4 to 1 ounce in other recipes but I love that tartness so could be a personal preference.
Great recipe! I’ve only ever had balsamic in one drink: a balsamic martini. It was a bit overpowering in that situation, but this concoction of yours sounds great. How do you think one should go about reducing balsamic at home for something that has the same kind of sweetness of the crema di balsamic that you used?
For making something similar to the crema di balsamico, I’d start with about a 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir over medium heat and let reduce for about 15 minutes. If you’re happy with the consistency and flavor of this batch, then I’d say to you could go forward with a larger batch. This will reduce down quite a lot. With these kinds of reductions, don’t leave the stove area, it could boil over or burn so watch it closely.
It’s certainly appropriately named. GREG
Well i can not imagine how it would taste… but i love the colour!