Sitting before a vest sporting fellow, I watch as he tucks one arm behind his back and strains my cocktail into a glass. He taps the tin shaker a couple of times before garnishing my drink with a flourish and pushes it towards me.
I love the theater of the craft cocktail scene. Especially enamoring are the select bars who create drinks that will forever alter your idea of what an alcoholic beverage can be, but will still accommodate any request with gracious humor.
I will sample just about any weird drink. I’ve quaffed several with curry or cumin seasonings. I’ve drowned my sorrows in a myriad of Old Fashioned, usually named something cleverly new fangled. I have swooned over the pristine perfection of an expertly made martini, but I have a dirty secret. I almost never mix up anything fancy at home. Some bourbon, Scotch, a decent amount of red wine with the occasional gimlet and I’m good.
However, I’ve grown accustomed to those clever concoctions. I’ve been seduced by the challenging mix of ingredients and the discovery of flavors I didn’t know I loved.
Tonight I decided to not just jump out of the box, but leap, headfirst into making my own oddball cocktail. This comes together quickly and is a fun twist on flavors. It’s a perplexing mix of winter and summer, using tomato water with bourbon and spice with a thread of sweetness. It makes nearly no sense and yet, it’s delicious! Crisp, cool, smoky with a waft of spice aromatics, this is a drink to dazzle guests with at your next dinner party. The finish of olive oil adds this creamy mouthfeel to balance the tart and sultry flavors.
Like so many of the cocktails I adore at bars around town like Eat Street Social, La Belle Vie, Parlour, or Lake Avenue Cafe in Duluth, I anoited my cocktail with a romantic name that means very little. Call it whatever you want, you will be seduced by this surprising and easy to make drink.
The Town Without a Name
1 ripe Bushel Boy tomato
scant pinch of salt
2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz Dubonnet
1 teaspoon maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
4 dashes Mr. Lee’s Ancient Chinese Secret Bitters
4 drops of extra virgin olive oil
Cut the Bushel Boy tomato in half and using the smaller grade on a box grater, rub tomato over service into a container. Measure tomato water into 1 ounce. Sprinkle in a scant pinch of salt.
In a cocktail shaker, over ice, combine bourbon, Dubonnet and maple syrup. Shake vigorously until container frosts over. Strain into a coup or v-glass. Finish with Mr. Lee’s Ancient Chinese Bitters from Dashfire Bitters. Drop four small drops of extra virgin olive oil. Serve.