Our most recent cocktail infatuation has got us nutty. Shameless pun, yes, but I had to.
Let’s first chat about our house made orgeat. Our in-house mad-scientist turned syrup-maker makes this traditional cocktail ingredient from simply almonds, sugar, and water, omitting the often-used orange flower water. While orgeat primarily functions as a sweetener, it brings such a rich viscosity, adds body and texture, and provides a depth flavor far beyond the common simple syrup.
When we were first recipe testing our almond orgeat, we had the idea…. “Why only almonds? What about…?” The next day we were experimenting with a quick batch of hazelnut orgeat, affectionately called hazel-geat. This super delicious syrup is the critical sweetener that takes our Nauti’ Mermaid from just ok, to something truly special. Since, we have experimented with peanut-geat: Thai curry cocktails much? Roasted Chestnuts-geat: happy holidays! And a Walnut-geat. The softer side of nocino
Maven is a cocktail bar. While we love the interesting and complex sweeteners, our heart is with the spirit. So when it came time for pistachio to make a cameo, we left the sugar on the shelf and got down cases of bourbon. Classic infusions pull flavor into the spirit, and often pull a little color as well, but we’ve never seen an infusion finish with a slimy green film on the surface. No, the eponymous ghost hadn’t visited the bourbon; rather, this green slim is the result of the bourbon pulling the fat from the pistachios. We opted against skimming this off as chef suggested, and just mixed it back in, and starting shaking drinks. We also did a horrible job of filtering the nuts out of the bourbon; removing only the chunks, but leaving the finer dust. This last lack of step, may have been at the perfect intersection of laziness and brilliance. Sure it makes it cloudy, but it also makes it taste great.
The new and coolest thing that nuts bring to the mix is fat. Of the five flavors, classic cocktail recipes are a play between the sweet and the sour. Yet the sensation of salt, umami, and fat are rarely felt on the palate. Furthermore, fat is the best vehicle for carrying flavor esters. By adding fat to a cocktail, not only is it tasty in and of itself, but the fat also triggers more taste buds that would otherwise remain unexcited.
Beyond this, we’ve been using a great and locally made nocino in our New Boy Valentine dessert cocktail. But admittedly have yet to make an amaretto sour.
We’re not the only ones exploring and fascinated with nuts into cocktails. Tasting Table recently ran an article regarding the gaining popularity of non-almond orgeats on cocktail menus.