Salt of the Earth:
1 oz. Averna
1 oz. Cynar
Scant pinch of Australian Murray River pink flake salt*
*(You may have to do some experimenting to get the right amount of salt, so start with smaller drinks so you don't waste good booze. If it tastes salty, you used too much salt)
Stir with ice. Strain. Express oils from orange zest. Garnish with zest if desired.
This cocktail was the result of multiple bits of inspiration over the past 6 months. The idea of salting cocktails (beyond margarita rims), has been marinating for some time after reading the excellent, informative, and scientific article from Maks Pazuniak, of beta cocktails and The Counting Room. Essentially, salt mitigates the bitterness of flavors and heightens their perceived sweetness (please read the article for further explanation of the chemical reaction of salts effect on bitterness, as well as links to recipes for other salted cocktails) which has broad ranging implications within the cocktail realm, especially with the plethora of bitters and amari currently available.
Chefs have long practiced the use of salt to pull out sweetness in otherwise bitter herbs, spices, and dishes. This is noted in the second bit of inspiration for the drink, the book The Flavor Bible, which was mentioned by virtually every speaker in the Portland Cocktail Week seminars last year and recently came in the mail. It is a reference book that focuses on the philosophy of flavors, the pairing and grouping of flavors , and is very inspirational when creating new drinks or meals.
The final bit came from Ron Dollete of LushAngeles.com, who during TDN of Portland Cocktail week paired Averna with Cynar and Bittermens Mole Bitters for a memorable cocktail, though I don't remember the exact proportions. We didn't have Mole bitters on hand so we opted for a 1:1 ratio of Averna:Cynar. Have any salted cocktail recipes you'd like to share?
Seis Dedos Del Gato (Six Toed Cat):
1.5 oz. Hornitos Tequila
.5 oz. Kirschwasser
1 oz. grapefruit
1 oz. lime
3 spritz Chichicapa single village mezcal rinse
House-smoked sea salt.
Our recent venture to Gilt Club yielded one exceptional cocktail highlighting the "mezcal craze" that has surged in popularity among connoisseur bartenders (and customers) seeking something beyond tequila to experiment with. On a side note, there are two excellent opportunities to get your mezcal fix in the upcoming Portland Cocktail Week. The first event is hosted by Ricky Gomez of Teardrop Lounge, and will feature Ron Cooper of Del Maguey for a tasting and discussion of the history of mezcal at Irving Street Kitchen. This is followed by a March for Mezcal, where Dave Shenaut and Jason Littrell will lead the tour around downtown Portland "where all roads lead to Mezcal". Tickets for both events can be purchased here. A good article from the New York Times that focused on the resurgence of mezcal, and the bittersweet phenomena of its limitations can be found here, "Hoping Mezcal Can Turn the Worm".
The cocktail had a smoky agave nose almost woody and oily. The sip was also smoky, with pronounced citrus though very smooth. The house smoked salt was a nice accompaniment to the cocktail, working to bring out the smokiness of the mezcal without overwhelming the nuances of the flavors.