Okay, I’ve been a bit quiet for a while. This is largely because the weather has been pretty good up in Edinburgh and I’ve been loath to spend any time indoors while the sun is shining so happily. It’s also in part due to me playing Mass Effect (1 and 2) lots when the weather hasn’t been so good. If you’re the sort who enjoys computer games (and really, you’re missing out if you aren’t), then you’ll probably understand. It’s a brilliant game.
That said, in between all that it’s been a really busy fortnight for me, and that trend is set to continue. At the tail end of June I participated in the Edinburgh heat of the 42 Below World Cup 2011, narrowly missing out on a place from what I gather. The drink I entered, though I think well thought out, a bit unusual and balanced, probably lacked the totally-crazy-unique-bonkers element that they like for this competition. I was, however, really pleased with the judges response to it and just as much the crowd’s. Next year, if I play again, I’ll have a better idea of how much crazy I need to squeeze into the drink.
Frankly, I thought taking my shirt off and dressing up for Mardi Gras (the theme is Carnival of the Cocktail) was a bit of a winner to begin with. I was just glad the sun was out. Having said that, trying to do a Blazer-style drink in an open space with a breeze and bright sunlight was ice-skating up hill from the very start; which brings me on to the important part: the drink.
The Ultimate Answer25ml 42 Below Feijoa 25 ml 42 Below Manuka Honey 25 ml Chambord 5ml Absinthe 2 Dashes Cassia-infused Orange Blossom Water Combine all ingredients in a brandy balloon heated over hot water, allow to warm in the glass and ignite with an orange zest. Add zest to drink and ignite two lemon peels, add to drink and allow to burn for approx 20 seconds before suffocating the flame. Serve with caution.
This was a drink of synergy. The esters in feijoa share a compound with menthol, so these combine neatly with the eucalyptus notes in the manuka honey and a counterpoint to the berry sweetness of the Chambord, in turn working with the crisp dry palate of the feijoa vodka and tying through to the honey. All the ingredients use natural flavours and sugars, obviously in the case of the vodka where no sugar is added, but especially since Chambord uses honey in its production. The Absinthe is both a nod to the anise notes of 42 Below Pure and to draw on the crisp deep-heat of feijoa. Back to the Chambord again, where the raspberries pull on the peppery notes of the base spirit. Honey draws on the menthol, which the cassia-infused orange blossom water accentuates, while the sour notes of feijoa combine with the Absinthe to help open up the palate and bind all the flavours together.
Blazing the drink served two purposes. First of all, serving hot really opens up the menthol and honey notes to make this a bit of a blast to the senses. It both invigorates the senses and soothes the drinker when consumed; refreshing and relaxing all at the same time. Secondly, it was a Carnival theme, and where would a show be without a little fire, eh?
The citrus peels were similarly for show and for flavour. Igniting from a zest looks cool, but also releases essential oils into the drink. Lemon peel was for the honey, and the orange peel was for the cassia flavours to give a link to the raspberry and crisp apple notes of feijoa.
So there you have it. And the name? Synergy again. To fit in with the theme, no circus or carnival is complete without a fortune teller, and she will predict for you the future… but if you’re savvy, you’ll have spotted the other reference. Douglas Adam’s Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Earth was a supercomputer created to calculate The Ultimate Question, which no-one knew, but we did know The Ultimate Answer: 42.
Righty. Sun is out, and so I’m going to go enjoy it – next time I’ll be talking Gin – and in particular, regaling you with the details of my winning entry for Broker’s Gin.