Monday, August 22, 2011

The Trinidad Sour

Wow. This is an absolutely effing amazing cocktail, by Giuseppe Gonzalez, bartender at Painkiller in New York City. I have never been to this establishment, but thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I have been lucky enough to experience this fine adult beverage.

It has only one-half ounce of rye whiskey in it. But it has a full ounce of Angostura Bitters. And you may not know this, but Angostura Bitters has 44.7% alcohol content - which makes it about 90 proof. There are very few cocktails that make bitters the main ingredient. That's because bitters are, well, bitter. But this ingenious cocktail balances the ounce of bitters with orgeat syrup, lemon juice, and rye, to create, in effect, one of the most unusual sour cocktails out there. The depth is indescribable, with clove, rye, lemon, almond, and many other subtle flavors commingling perfectly.

There are some precursors. The Trinidad Especial - by Valentino Bolgnese - is bitters, orgeat, lime, and pisco. And, the honorable Mr Gonzalez also invented a Mai Tai called the Stormy Mai Tai - in which there are one and a half ounces of Angostura Bitters (and a half ounce of light rum). I don't know what I am thinking, but I have not tried this sure-to-be-brilliant take on the Mai Tai... I will have to remedy this soon.

Speaking of bitters, I must mention that there was a very frightening point in time (2009) during which it became very difficult to find Angostura Bitters. I could not buy them at my liquor store, and even established watering holes in Boston had to be creative due to a lack of this critical cocktail ingredient. Turns out, I was not the only one in a panic. Luckily, during this time, I happened to find a couple of small bottles of Angostura at a supermarket. I bought them all. One cannot live without Angostura Bitters if one is the least bit serious about making cocktails.

Thankfully, the great bitters shortage came to an end. And I celebrated by making this amazing, fantastic, delicious cocktail. As there is so little of the rye whiskey in this drink, and the bitters are so pungent, I use a robust rye bottling such as Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Rittenhouse Rye, or Bulleit Rye.

(One very important note: The Trinidad Sour calls for orgeat syrup. Orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup derived from almonds. You have to have it in this drink, in order to balance the bitters. I found mine, by Fee Brothers, at the Boston Shaker.)

The Trinidad Sour

1 oz Angostura Bitters
1 oz orgeat syrup
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz rye whiskey

Shake all the ingredients with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Note the color of this drink, with its deep mahogany, burgundy, and amber hues. Sip and be amazed. This may well be one of the most fascinating and delicious cocktails of the twenty-first century.

Bottoms up. And, thank goodness for Angostura Bitters.

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