Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Storm Juno: The Cocktail

(Others in the storm cocktail series: Hurricane Irene in August 2011, Winter Storm Nemo in February 2013)

Juno is the Roman goddess of fertility and marriage (her Greek counterpoint is Hera).  Her symbol is the peacock, and her sacred tree is the fig tree, a symbol of fertility (though pomegranates are also mentioned). 

I decided to run with the fig idea, and interrogated the internet for Italian liqueurs, given the Roman connection.  Thank you, wikipedia, for your wonderful page on Italian liqueurs to remind me of my options!

I checked my liquor cabinet and found these potential candidates:


Even better, I noticed a bottle of cheap Hiram and Walker amaretto in the back; I think I bought it because I needed it for a cocktail and they didn't have Disaronno at the liquor store (which I had since bought).  I thought---perfect.  Figs, amaretto - let's make a syrupy infusion.  And it doesn't matter if the amaretto tastes like cheap almond extract, the infusion will fix that.

The next step was thinking if any of the others would place nicely with figs and almond.  Though I despise the taste of fernet plain, I guessed that it would be a terrific counterbalance to the sweet amaretto and fig when all was said and done.  Don't get me wrong, I will make a cocktail with limoncello, maraschino liqueur and galliano one of these days, but today is not that day. 

Unfortunately, I would still call this cocktail in development; my amazing blender turned the amaretto and fig syrup into, well, a fig amaretto fruit butter.  It was spreadable, not the syrup I thought it would be.  It was tasty, but not really what I was looking for.  
The iterations of the cocktail that I tried ended up being...good.  Not great.  I'm going to be trying a fig-infused vodka to see if that makes a better fig option - maybe 2 ounces vodka to 1/2 ounce each of fernet and amaretto?  We'll have to see!

Winter Storm Juno (a work in progress)

2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce fig amaretto fruit butter
1/4 ounce fernet amaro
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice; shake until chilled.  Top with club soda if desired.

Amaretto Fig Fruit Butter

3 cups amaretto (use the cheap stuff)
284 grams dried figs, de-stemmed and cut into small pieces (about 20; a 10 ounce bag of dried Smyrna figs)
pinch of salt
a few stems of thyme or rosemary (optional; but don't go overboard here, it's meant to be an earthy background note, not a thyme syrup)

1.  Simmer over low heat for about an hour to infuse and slightly reduce. Allow to cool to room temperature (about another hour).
2.  Remove thyme stems, if you used them.  Using a high powered blender, blend for about a minute.  This makes a sauce of apple butter-like consistency.  If you don't have an expensive blender, it will likely leave some seeds, and I'd recommend straining them out with as sieve or cheesecloth. 

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