The Remembrance Nectar
“Oil and water don’t mix!” said your best friend at the recount of your last failed love story. In nature as in life though, add enough alcohol and perhaps things will sort themselves out.
Water is called the universal solvent for a reason; it can dissolve a wide range of molecules, making them available to life’s organisms. Part of what makes this possible is that water is made up of three atoms: H – O – H. These OH pairs allow it to interact with other molecules that have similar features. On the other hand, oils don’t have these characteristics. So when you add oil to a watery substance, it globs up into little balls, trying to avoid as much contact with the water as possible (unless you add mustard to it and create an emulsion, but that’s another story for next month’s post).
Alcohols, however, have a special advantage. Ethanol (the alcohol we all love in our drinks), in particular, comprises of a carbon chain and an OH group, so it has some characteristics of an oil, and some characteristics that make it water friendly. The result? It allows us to extract aromatic essential oils from plants and fruits into our liquors and dilute the drink to our liking with simple water, creating satisfying liquors with a beautifully elegant richness of their own.
Today’s cocktail wants to be a delicious application of all this. In the “Remembrance Nectar,” we will use both a ready-made ethanol infusion in the form of Cointreau/Grand Marnier, to which we will add our own rosemary-flavored oil, creating a simple but intense taste of Mediterranean sunlight.
- ¼ cup canola
- 2 tsp. (ca. 3g) dried rosemary needles
- ½ tsp. granulated brown sugar
- 1 medium fresh rosemary sprig, needles only
- ½ tsp. rosemary oil (recipe follows)
- 1 fl. oz. (30ml) vodka
- ⅓ fl. oz. (10ml) Cointreau or Grand Marnier
- few drops fresh lemon juice (optional)
- 1 fl. oz. (30ml) mineral water or to taste
- grapefruit peel knot for garnish
- fresh rosemary for garnish
- Make the Rosemary Oil: In a small saucepan, combine the canola oil with the dried rosemary needles and place over medium low heat. Let the rosemary gently sizzle for a few minutes before taking the saucepan off of the heat. Cover with a lid and let infuse overnight. The next day, drain the rosemary-infused oil into a clean container using a fine meshed sieve. Reserve in a dark bottle or cupboard for better shelf keeping.
- Prepare the Cocktail: In a shaker, place both the brown sugar and the fresh rosemary needles. Using a muddler, bruise the rosemary well to release its aromatic oils into the sugar.
- At this point, add the rest of the ingredients, except the water. Using a hand-held milk-frother, mix everything together into an emulsion. It shouldn't take more than 10 seconds. When the foam subsides, add the mineral water, fill the shaker with drained ice cubes, and shake vigorously for a couple of minutes until the drink is well chilled.
- Strain the cocktail through a fine-meshed sieve into a small tumbler glass containing ice cubes.
- Decorate with a grapefruit knot and fresh rosemary (Note: a whole sprig makes a great aromatic stirrer for this drink).