1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey [Rittenhouse]
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Orgeat [El Guapo Bitters]
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth [Dolin]
1/4 oz Lemon juice
Few dashes Angostura and Orange bitters [Regan’s]
Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Back in January, a good friend of mine was getting married in Cali. For a while, he considered having me design a drink for the reception. Since he lives in NYC, I would come up with a drink, and send him the specs so he could make it himself. Ultimately, he got cold feet (on the drink, not the wedding), mostly because the venue convinced him to play it safe with a margarita variation (which was still delicious, by the way). But we both agreed one of the drinks I sent him was worthy of a post, and that time has come.
Since the wedding was in California, I wanted to use an ingredient for which that state is known. Citrus was an obvious choice, but I wanted to go a little deeper. That being said, I was pretty sure a cocktail with avocado in it could get weird. But, did you know that California produces just over 80% of the worlds almonds? And you know where you can find almonds in the cocktail world (besides Amaretto)? Orgeat*!
* When I first made this drink a few months back, I used Fee Bros orgeat. This time, I just picked up a bottle of El Guapo Bitters Orgeat from Muddle & Stir. This stuff was quite the different beast. Along with the classic almond flavor, there is a lovely flowery component – both in aroma and taste. You almost forget that this is a syrup as the sweetness is very subtle. A nice change of pace indeed.
The almond-flavored syrup is found in many classic tiki drinks, often paired with rum. I decided to stay in the brown liquor category, but explore the whiskey-orgeat pairing instead. As I mentioned before, California is no schlub in the citrus department either, so adding a little Cointreau fit the theme nicely. At this point, things were getting a little sweet with orgeat and Cointreau, so I needed sometart elements to balance it out. Dry vermouth and lemon juice provided the perfect counterpoint.
The nose of the Creative Differences surprised me with all the botanicals wafting up. The El Guapo Orgeat has a very strong floral component, and combines with the lemon twist to bloom out of the glass. Nuts and malts are present as well, and continue on the sip. The drink then moves towards tartness as the lemon juice and dry vermouth make their way through. A full, round body supports all the flavors nicely. Spiciness from the rye and nuts from the orgeat linger after the swallow. It drinks kind of like a tiki-fied sour variation. And I’m not hating on that one bit.