Saturday, April 13, 2013

Japanese Cocktails and Snow in April

Snow in April is common where I live.  Spring birds begin to return, singing to the sun.   A constant drip from eves of the house signal melting ice.  You peek through the garden, excited at any sign of new growth.  Almost there….you think….It will be time soon.  But just as you tuck your long undies to the back of the drawer and start airing out your swim suit you look out the window to see snow gently smother all hope.  Usually, the new snow only lasts a day or two.  But this year is special.  It snowed 6 inches of heavy, wet snow last week and there is no end in sight.  Not yet anyway. 

After a particularly trying day of driving across town in near white out conditions, I discovered an interesting article about Japanese cocktail making.  The article went into detail about how Japanese bartenders use fewer ingredients, how they draw inspiration from nature, and how every cocktail tells a story.  Each description on how to make these cocktails read more like a poem than a recipe.  One bartender told the story of visiting his wife’s family home using whisky, pineapple juice, apricot brandy and a garnish of burning lemongrass.  

I thought about this way of seeing the world.  I thought about how trying to capture an experience in a glass must require such deliberate detail and subtle finesse.  In order to succeed at this, one must need to be incredibly conscious of their surroundings.  It made me think about this snow storm differently.

When making this cocktail, I wanted to tell the story of spring snow in my garden.  The earthy sweet taste of Buffalo Grass vodka represents new growth waiting to break the soil.  The St. Germaine represents swelling buds of my plum tree covered in melting ice.  The snow ball is the heavy snow quilting the ground and the tonic is the snow melt washing the garden clean. 

Cocktail recipe:

Snow in April

Drop one 1/8 of a small lime in a cocktail shaker. Add 1 oz Buffalo Grass Vodka, a splash of St. Germaine Liquor and a hand full of ice.  Cover and shake.  Strain into a straight sided cordial or whisky glass.  Add a tightly packed snowball just large enough to seal the glass but not touch the liquor.  Slowly pour in 1 oz tonic water.  Enjoy.