Apologies in advance. This turned into the Alice’s Restaurant of food blog posts. I plan on doing a cocktail post a week through the end of Saratoga, and we’ll see where it goes from there. I’d like to cover a bunch of the racetrack named cocktails while I’m up there (Did you know there were cocktails named for all three New York tracks as well as one called The Steeplechase?). But I’m going to start off with a Maine-themed drink I played around with all last week.
Last year in this space I wrote about the Kezar Sunset . This year, we invented it’s older brother. One of our very favorite pastimes up there is taking Mugs down to the dock for a swim. If we want to get her all pumped up we refer to this activity in a high-pitched voice as “swimmies.” (I just said it out loud as I typed that and poor Mugs got up from her nap spot by the window and now she thinks I’m going to take her out to the Peninsula. Maybe when I finish this post, Mugs).
There was never a time when Mugs was afraid of water. The first time she ever saw the lake, I threw her ball in and she followed it in with little hesitation. But she did stop for just a second at the edge before leaping in. Through time and training, we’ve gotten her to jump in as high and far as she can straight into the water, as you can see in the photo above. That’s about a 15-foot leap there (this was more impressive before I discovered the world record was 28-feet, but that dog was part Greyhound, had a 30-foot astroturf run-up and an inclined dock. Just saying.)
So what does any of this have to do with our new cocktail? Well, the drink is really a hybrid of two other cocktails, the aforementioned Kezar Sunset and also a little classic, re-popularized by the internet cocktail crowd, called. . . wait for it. . .The Aviation. I was initally thinking of calling it something clumsly like Flying Over Lake Kezar at Sunset when Susan came up with the clever name, which incidentally has also become the newest nickname for Mugs herself.
A NOTE ON BRANDIED CHERRIES
You do not want to use those frightening, semi-edible, food-dyed witin an inch of their (and your) lives maraschino-in-name-only cocktail cherries for this. There are some commericially available decent cherries you can buy, but what I think you should do is what I did and that’s to brandy your own cocktail cherries. This is VERY easy and after all, it is cherry season right now, right?
For my first batch I used sour cherries, for my second batch (pictured here) I’m going to go with sweet ones. Here’s the recipe I used the first time around:
1 pint sour cherries (480ml, 16 fl.oz. imperial)
1/2 cup water (120 ml, 4 fl.oz. imperial)
1/2 cup sugar (120 ml, 4 fl.oz. imperial)
1/2 cup brandy or cognac (120 ml, 4 fl.oz. imperial)
1 cinammon stick
2 whole cloves
I have yet to try this with a cherry liqueur like Cherry Heering or proper Maraschino liqueur but I can’t imagine that would be bad either, though each would take the flavor in its own direction. The Heering is dark red, with a bold, bittersweet taste and the Maraschino is lighter, subtler, clear and sweet. Since Maraschino is used in the classic Aviation, might as well go with that. (I refreshed my memory by reading up on cherry liqeurs in Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail before writing this graph).
I cleaned the cherries by running them under cold water and I separated them so each had its own stem. I did not elect to pit them, but I wouldn’t blame you if you did.
Put the water, sugar, and spices in a saucepan and heat until they combine. Turn off heat. Add brandy and cherries and let cool.
Put them in a lidded jar or small storage container and let them cool out and do their thing in the fridge. If you need more liquid to fill your container, add a bit more brandy or syrup, your call. I let mine sit for two days before use as per this article but I bet Mark Bittman would tell you they’d be good to good in an hour. (By the way, on my personal Mount Rushmore of cooking you’d find stone carvings of my Grandma, Patricia Wells, Mario Batali, Bittman, and Heidi Swanson, just so you know where I’m coming from with all this food blogging stuff).
I’m not sure how long these cherries will last for, but that Times piece says months, though she stemmed and pitted and I didn’t. I am a little concerned that the cherries themselves will start to ferment at some point but that hasn’t happened yet and I’m 3 weeks in. Perhaps the brandy preserves them? If you are someone who knows about these things please add a note in the comments. I love to learn about this stuff.
OK, so this was supposed to be a post about The Dock Flyer. Here, at long last, is the recipe:
2 oz gin.
1 oz brandied cherry liqueur (I used the brandy we packed the cherries in, but if you’re using a non-homemade cherry, feel free to use Maraschino, or another cherry liqueur like Cherry Heering, paying attention to my note about the difference between the two above)
3/4 oz lime juice
1 shake Peychaud bitters (you could substitute other bitters or skip in a pinch but Peychaud’s are worth seeking out for Sazeracs anyway)
tonic water (optional)
Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. As with all cocktails, the water off the ice is an essential ingredient. Strain into a cocktail glass and granish with a brandied cherry and a lime wheel. Feel free to top your glass with a little tonic as well.
This drink also works well on the rocks, especially with the addition of tonic.