One of my favorite headliners for ACL is Thievery Corporation and one of my favorite songs of theirs is Lebanese Blonde. I wanted to create a yellow cocktail with Lebanese flavors, but in my research the only such flavors I found were bulgar and sesame oil… It can be done but it is very hard to make a cocktail with sesame oil! I decided to broaden the field and use Middle Eastern flavors instead. In Lebanese Blonde, I’m using Cadenhead’s Old Raj Gin, which is infused with saffron an impeccable essence for culinary and libations. Also, I use pineapple juice to make the drink “blonde” and garnish with fresh mint and a sprinkle of ground cardamom. How else would one drink a Lebanese blonde?
> 1.5 oz. pineapple juice
> 2 oz. Cadenhead Old Raj gin (saffron infused gin)
> 1.5 oz. coconut water
> Basil for garnish
> Sprinkle of ground cardamom for garnish
In a mixing glass pour the pineapple juice, coconut water and gin, add ice, cap with a Boston Shaker and shake until contents are nice and fluffy. Strain over new ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with fresh basil from the farmers market or your garden and sprinkle with ground cardamom.
The band Sonic Youth’s song Teenage Riot inspired my next drink. My boyfriend, Darren, says this song reminds him of the way I make my cocktails: an easy slow start he compares to that first aroma; a crazy explosion when the heart of the song begins, reminiscent of that first taste; and a long finish leaving you still wanting more, likened to the lingering finish of the cocktail.
For Teenage Riot, I wanted a cocktail that would appeal to the teenager in all of us; something fruity, lighthearted and fun. The riotous part, I decided, would be ingredients such as an aged cachaca ( ca-SHA-sa) which is a Brazilian style rum made from sugar cane instead of molasses. Sugar cane juice imparts a nice vegetal, almost grass-like quality to the spirit instead of a thick and heavy sweet molasses that most people are familiar with. The cachaca in this cocktail is aged in Brazilian wood barrels that give it an earthy hint. I pair the flavors of cachaca with strawberry simple syrup made with raw unprocessed sugar and orange bitters making the drink sweet and slightly bitter with a nice finish. It’s a riot.
> 2 oz. Ypioca Ouro Cachaca
> .5 oz. homemade strawberry syrup
> .25 oz. lemon juice
> 3 dashes orange bitters
In a mixing glass add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a champagne flute and garnish with a fresh cherry.
Homemade Strawberry Syrup
In a pot on the stove combine 1 cup water, 1 cup raw unprocessed sugar and one container (usually 1 cup) quartered strawberries. Let mixture cook on medium to low heat for about twenty minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is a nice pink in color. Remove from heat to cool, strain and bottle. Can keep in fridge for approximately two weeks.
This year, ACL is in October. What better time for Ghost Land Observatory to play than in the month of Halloween – my favorite holiday. In my concoction Ghost Land, I use Zwack Unicum Liqueur, a Dutch spirit which is similar Jagermiester but not as sweet and kitschy. Zwack is herbal and vegetal with a nice aroma of spice scents and definitely medicinal (don’t question, just go with it). It is not for people who do not like the taste of alcohol, so be warned. I pair Zwack with Ron Zacappa 23-year- old rum and chocolate bitters to make a very dark and gloomy cocktail that is most beautiful drunk after dinner. It has a full flavor, so your palate, if not your heart, will be consumed in the Ghost Land. Just to add to the “spirit” of the drink and October, I add bloody red raspber ries. Dark beauty indeed.
▪ > .5 oz Zwack Unicum liqueur
▪ > 1.5 oz Ron ZaCappa 23 year old rum
▪ > 3 dashes chocolate bitters
> raspberries for garnish
In a mixing glass combine all ingredients with ice and stir with a barspoon. When nicely chilled, strain with a julep strainer into a cocktail or martini glass and garnish with fresh or frozen raspberries.