Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, The Blood Money!
Greetings, Wonketeers! I’m Hooper, your bartender. I had a little problem in the aftermath of last week’s blood orange margarita recipe — leftover blood oranges. Some penny candy gave me the inspiration for a ginger blood orange rum concoction, and after some taste-testing I’m more than happy with the result. Let’s make Blood Money cocktails together. Here’s the recipe:
2 oz Pusser’s rum
1 oz blood orange ginger syrup
½ oz Stirrings triple sec
½ oz lime juice
2 shakes Angostura bitters
Shake all ingredients together. Serve over ice with an orange peel garnish.
Blood Orange Ginger Syrup
1 small piece of fresh ginger, ¾- 1 inch long
½ cup demerara syrup
½ cup boiling water
2 oz fresh blood orange juice
Chop the ginger into small pieces; do not peel the ginger. Add ginger, syrup, and water to a blender and puree until the ginger has pulped. Let sit for one minute. Juice the blood oranges into the syrup. Strain into a container. The syrup will keep at least 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.
When I’m playing with ingredients that have some water content, like citrus or fresh ginger, I prefer to make them into a cocktail syrup. It’s a fairly simple process, and I can control the strength of the flavor by adjusting the amount of syrup in the cocktail. It does lock you into making some variation of a sour — booze, acid, and sugar. I don’t consider that much of a hardship. Sours are extremely popular drinks; a good daiquiri is my favorite cocktail.
If you want to make a cocktail with flavors from dry ingredients — dried chiles, coffee, spices — you probably need to make an infusion. That takes time and commitment, and the courage to make mistakes. I have screwed up coffee vodka more than once. Your best bet is to use whole ingredients and let the alcohol do its work. Alcohol is a solvent, after all; with enough time, it can pull the essential oils and essences from nearly anything to make a solid drink.
Ginger is an ingredient you can handle more than one way in the cocktail bar. If you cook ginger in a heated syrup, you’ll get a mellower ginger flavor, similar to ginger snaps. If you use the raw ginger syrup technique I outlined here, you’ll get a more fiery syrup. I stole the recipe from Jeffrery Morganthaler a few years ago and have been a committed fan ever since. Both syrups have their place. As a rule of thumb, I like the raw ginger variation. It’s easy to make, and I can balance the heat from the ginger against citrus easily. I’m not a fan of peeling ginger, either, so it’s a win-win scenario.
Ingredient shot. That's a stunt tangerine in the photo; I used up all my blood oranges perfecting the syrup. Matthew Hooper
Pusser’s Rum: My favorite liquor, hands down. This is the most obvious starting point for any cocktail I make. The rum cooperates very nicely with the orange and ginger, adding caramel and tropical notes. A blended Scotch would also be great here. Pusser’s is the closest thing we have to old-school British Navy rum. As you can tell by my glassware choice, I have a thing for pirates, so Pusser’s has a soft spot in my heart. Never, ever use Bumbu in a cocktail recipe. It’s marketed as a premium rum, but there’s so much sugar and flavoring in it that it might not qualify as rum at all.
Blood orange syrup: I would never have thought of this flavor combination if I hadn’t picked up these tasty ginger pastilles while waiting in line at the drugstore. They’re much better than I expected — similar to lemon and ginger, but less acidic and harsh. Order of operations matters here; let the syrup sit, then add the orange juice, and then strain. You don’t want bits of ginger or orange pulp in the cocktail.
Stirrings Triple Sec: To boost and support the blood orange flavor. Don’t use a cheap triple sec; a tiny bottle of Cointreau or Grand Marnier would be better than artificial orange garbage.
Lime juice: Fresh limes only. You know the words by now, sing along – plastic limes produce plastic juice.
Angostura bitters: The Angostura supports the ginger and adds complexity to the spice notes in the drink. Orange bitters would also be great here.
Garnish: As tempting as it might be, don’t skip the garnishes on your drinks at home. A good garnish always serves a purpose in the cocktail. In this drink, we’re boosting the orange scent of the cocktail to the max with a candy-ribbon coil of blood orange peel.
You don’t need many tools to make a professional-looking garnish. I find a perpendicular vegetable peeler to be a big help in cutting fat slices of citrus peel. A channel knife can help you cut long spaghetti strings of peel. I generally clean up any ragged edges on peels with a paring knife before service. Whatever you choose, take your time and make your drink look pretty. It’s worth the effort.
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