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Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, The Cosmonaut!
No, not that Cosmo. A different Cosmo. A better one.
Greetings, Wonketeers! I’m Hooper, your bartender. I’m always a little disappointed when the winter cocktail menu rotates in. I love fresh fruit juice in my drinks. When my favorite cocktail ingredients go out of season, it’s a bit sad. However, the Clover Club bar in NYC has come up with a great way to make an all-season kitchen staple into a killer fruit bomb of a drink. Let’s make a Cosmonaut. Here’s the recipe:
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2 oz Boodle’s Gin
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Bonne Maman Raspberry Preserves
Shake all ingredients well. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass.
I love the recipes that come out of the Clover Club. Julie Reiner co-founded the bar, and her bar’s recipes always shine with simplicity, elegance, and bright flavors. Ms. Reiner is one of the leading lights of modern mixology, receiving award after award for not only her craft, but her mentorship. She has done more than anyone else in the industry to make sure that women have a place behind the stick. You can see Ms. Reiner in action as a judge on the Netflix TV show “Drink Masters” (give it a watch; Tao was robbed).
This particular recipe is meant as a sly retort to the classic Cosmopolitan (hence the name of the drink — it’s a “Cosmo,” but not that Cosmo). It’s just as tart as a standard Cosmo, and has the same pink color, but it’s simpler, cleaner, and more focused. The use of raspberry preserves is brilliant. The tart fruit flavors come through clearly, but it’s the gloriously silky mouthfeel of the drink that really grabs you. I wouldn’t call this drink a “retort” to the normal Cosmo. Dale DeGroff, pioneer of the modern Cosmopolitan, mentored Julie Reiner. There’s certainly no ill will here. But if you love a Cosmopolitan, you’ll be over the moon when you drink a Cosmonaut.
Let’s talk about cocktail theory here for a moment, because despite a buck-wild ingredient, this cocktail follows a classic model. At its heart, this drink is a sour, a classic three-ingredient model that applies to daiquiris, gimlets, margaritas, and a host of variations. Basically, the model is:
Booze + Citrus + Sugar = Tasty Drink
The clearest example of this is a classic daiquiri: rum, simple syrup, and lime juice. Getting the balance right is crucial for solid mixology; nailing the balance between sweet and tart is an art form. But at its core, mixing up something akin to homemade lemonade and booze makes for a solid drink.
It’s the choice of sweetener and acid that makes your cocktail menu blossom. Over the years, I’ve used simple syrup, demerara syrup, brown sugar syrup, maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, triple sec, and now fruit preserves as the sugar component in a sour. There are fewer options for your citrus in drinks; you need a pretty low Ph for an acid to work in a drink. But I’m sure I’ll be surprised one of these days.
The key thing here is that the sour is a very versatile template that shows up all over the cocktail menu. If you’re looking to make a new drink for your home bar, start here. Get something sweet you like. Add some lemon or lime juice. Add your favorite booze. Shake, strain, serve. Boom! You’re a mixologist. Your diploma’s in the mail.
Let’s talk ingredients:
Boodles Gin: I always prefer a London Dry as a gin base for any drink. Something herbal and crisp makes a solid base for tart flavors while remaining in the background. Hendricks would be completely crushed under the lemon and raspberry. I might try a citrus forward gin, like Citadelle, if you can’t stand the slightest suggestion of juniper.
Lemon Juice: Always use fresh. Half a small lemon will give you the juice you need.
Bonne Maman Raspberry Preserves: I’m recommending this brand because it’s all pectin and no high fructose corn syrup. I’m not completely adverse to corn syrup in drinks; I cheerfully drink Cuba Libres all week long. But pectin provides the rich mouth feel we’re shooting for in this drink. I run the drink through a small conical strainer before it hits the glass, to catch all the seeds from the preserves. Don’t be stingy here — this is your drink’s sugar and flavoring.
You can use any flavor of preserve you want in this drink. The Clover Club loves its raspberry flavors, but strawberry preserves work wonderfully. Orange marmalade is very much on my mind as an alternative; I’m going to use this recipe as a template and build the Ultimate Screwdriver in a few months. If you have leftover preserves from another recipe, give them a turn here. It could be the answer to all those jars cluttering up the fridge.
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