1 1/2 oz Old Tom Gin [Hayman’s]
3/4 oz Triple Sec [Short Path]
1/2 oz Elderflower Liqueur [St. Elder]
4 chunks of Dragon Fruit
Few Drops Saline Solution
Muddle dragon fruit in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add first three ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a cocktail glass, add a few drops of saline solution and give a quick stir. Garnish with dragon fruit wedge.
Lately I’ve been into cruising through the produce section to see if there is any weird fruit I can use for cocktails. A month or so ago I came home with a prickly pear, infused some pisco, and made the Sufferin’ Succulents. This time it was a similarly odd looking fruit that caught my eye, the dragon fruit.
Apparently dragon fruit also comes from a cactus, like the aforementioned prickly pear. After cutting it open and trying some, it made sense. The dragon fruit had the same soft flesh and mild flavor as the prickly pear. They both had a faint melon quality, with the dragon fruit having some more lychee and kiwi notes as well. Admittedly, it was the fruits exterior which really sold me. This variety was egg shaped and covered in yellow “scales”. The other well known variety has more of a dark pink exterior. In either case, the inside flesh is white dotted with black seeds.
The first few bites were very mild tasting. I was beginning to worry it would get swallowed up by any other ingredients in a cocktail. I decided to see what happened if I sprinkled some salt on it. After all, my salt well is always within arms reach as I’m making dinner and trying to dial in the flavor. My instincts paid off, as the bite with salt definitely had a more pronounced flavor. Granted, it was still not slapping you in the face, but now I could see a drink coming together.
Elderflower liqueur compliments the kiwi and lychee aspects of the dragon fruit. Triple sec adds some much needed brightness. For the base spirit, I chose Old Tom gin, both for its subtle sweetness and floral bouquet. Finally came the salt component. I’d read about bartenders using saline solution (a mixture of salt and water) to enhance the flavor of certain drinks. Given my taste tests with the dragon fruit itself, I figured this was the perfect time to try my hand at one.
The Dragon Unit has melon and kiwi aromas on the nose. The sip is round and full, and the botanicals and citrus begin to assert themselves. The dragon fruit lurks in the shadows, letting the other components move to the front. It almost anchors the drink in a way. The finish is long and smooth with pear, melon and kiwi notes all leaving their mark.
Amazingly, Dragon Unit was in my list of possible cocktail names I keep on my phone. I caught it during an episode of Game of Thrones. Its not some troupe of marauding Targaryens from back in the day, but instead an actual part of the production crew. As the credits scrolled by, I caught those words and instantly jotted them down. At the time I probably figured I’d incorporate spice or fire into whatever drink got that name, but using an actual dragon fruit works just as well.
Random produce is always fun to mess around with, and maybe I need to start a similar thing with my cooking as well. It’s a fun challenge to take something you have zero experience with and see what you can creat.