The end of summer in Brooklyn is notoriously unpredictable. Residents may anticipate another several following weeks of warm stuffy humidity, or snowfall by October. The Mockingbird, the newest addition to the menu at Old Timers in Bushwick, Brooklyn, is a cocktail designed to accommodate that awkward in-between season feeling.
One of my favorite aspects of creating a new cocktail recipe is the option to preserve components in liquor. Summer evokes memories of ripe fruit in abundance and herb bushes overgrowing in gardens like weeds. Freshness abounds. I chose to infuse tequila blanco with raspberries and mint. The natural sweetness of the popular agave spirit complements the fruit and herbs. No need to purchase an expensive tequila: historically, the purpose of cocktail design is to transform low-level spirits into an easily palatable beverage.
Around this time of year, there are finicky temperature drops; New Yorkers are rushing in and out of air-conditioned buildings; and increased pollen in the air yields seasonal allergies or colds. Everyone I encounter seems to be recovering from a persistent cough or suffering from a runny nose. The cocktail includes a honey-based syrup to soothe an agitated throat. The honey syrup also features hibiscus and clove. The tart cranberry-like quality of hibiscus is one of my favorite treats, an homage to cool afternoons sipping on tea with cloves.
Mockingbird includes Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur, a gin-based English product commonly used for the popular drink “Pimm’s Cup.” Pimm’s Cup is typically comprised of gin, citrus fruit, cucumber and lemon-lime soda. It has a bitter herbal spice quality, which can be overpowering if used with a heavy hand. Including a trace amount of Pimm’s in the drink enhances the flavor with a slight medicinal quality. Mockingbird evokes the freshness reminiscent of Pimm’s Cup season. Pimm’s Liqueur includes citrus in its flavor profile. Mockingbird also includes fresh-squeezed lime juice, to complement the Pimm’s and because few tequila cocktails are complete without lime.
Now trending in the cocktail world is the consideration of low-waste or zero-waste garnishes. Cocktail-makers are adopting the mind-set that the garnish must contribute to the drink in an aromatic or culinary fashion. Small business owners struggle to keep their expenses low when signature cocktails involve flashy trinkets that are merely thrown out after the drink is consumed. Bartenders are strained to deliver consistent quality products during busy services. It is also worth noting that garish decorations on drinks, while they can be festive and pleasing to the eye, are wasteful and harmful to the environment. Mockingbird is garnished with a single mint leaf, a return to the herb in the infusion. I like to enjoy cocktails with friends, and if a drink includes mint in the garnish, I eat the mint in hopes that it will keep my breath fresh so that I remain pleasant company. In this way, every component of Mockingbird is meant to be enjoyed from start to finish.
1.5 oz raspberry-infused tequila blanco*
.25 oz Pimm’s No. 1 Liqueur
.5 oz hibiscus clove honey syrup*
.75 oz lime juice
Combine above ingredients in a shaker. Shake aggressively for approximately 12 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe. Pick a single mint leaf and flatten between two palms to express the natural oils of the herb. Float the mint on the surface of the cocktail.
For the tequila infusion:
Tear approximately 15-20 mint leaves into small pieces. Muddle approximately 20 raspberries with the shreds of mint. In an airtight container, combine 750 milliliters of 100% agave tequila. Allow to infuse for minimum of 4 days. After the liquor is properly infused with the raspberry and mint flavors, strain the fruit and herbs from the infusion. Discard the remaining raspberries and mint.
For the hibiscus-clove honey syrup:
1 cup of dried hibiscus flowers
6 whole cloves
80 oz container of honey
Combine hibiscus flowers with cloves in 4 cups of boiling water. Allow mixture to steep until cooled. Strain the hibiscus and cloves, yielding a bright luminescent red liquid. In a large container, add honey and stir thoroughly until the honey no longer separates from the liquid. Honey syrup should have a consistency that pours smoothly, slightly less viscous than its original form.