Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Potemkin Cocktail: Some research

I found a copy of Caroline Eden's 'Black Sea Dispatches and Recipes' in Waterstones on Thursday, which was pay day, so it made the perfect treat to celebrate the brief moment of feeling flush. It's not officially out until next week, but there's a good chance it's already in your local bookshop - if it is, buy it, you won't regret it. It's a beautiful object, and I'm really enjoying reading it.

Everything I'm loving about it is distilled into the Potemkin Cocktail. It's a twist on the fireside Cocktail which I was unfamiliar with, looking it up hasn't left me much wiser, there are whisky and vodka versions about, both of which I plan to try as soon as I've written this, because research.

I like this recipe so much forvall sorts of reasons; because it's component parts are simple - you need fine salt to rim a glass with, 2 crushed ice cubes, 2.5 tablespoons of vodka, 3.5 tablespoons of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, pink is recommended, and a sprig of Rosemary - all I had to buy was a grapefruit. That makes it tempting to make.

The method is simple too. Lightly rim a tallish chilled glass with salt, add the ice pour over the vodka and grapefruit, mix well, take the rosemary sprig and run a lighted match (long matches are obviously best for this) along it's needles to boost the scent before adding it to the glass. Drink.

Good, easy to make, unfussy cocktails - you can't have enough of them in your repertoire. The advice to take a match to the rosemary is both a handy tip, and adds a bit of theatre to the process. I'm all for the theatre element, any drink from tea upwards is better for a bit of ceremony and ritual. It doesn't need to take long, or be elaborate, just enough to turn it into a treat to be savoured.

Then there are the measurements. This fitted into my juice glasses, which are quite small - and I really like small drinks, because again it's about something being a treat, rather than something that leaves you feeling like you've already had enough before you're half way through.

And most important of all, it tastes great. Fresh, fruity, pleasingly sour thanks to the grapefruit, with the salt and rosemary evoking sea brine, and an earthy forest note respectively. It's all really nicely balanced, with those simple components becoming much more than the sum of their parts. The name Eden has given it, along with her text over the preceding pages give the whole thing an air of romance. It's exactly this which is making me enjoy this book so very much.

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