Rethinking a Classic
Illustrations by Patti Blau
Call me old fashioned. I’m not even going to qualify that with a “but.” I’m old fashioned, with a mindset fixed on 20th Century sentiments. Don’t worry, this isn’t another lament for the good old days when we could drink freely in bars to all hours of the morning. The 20th Century I’m referring to is the cocktail, which is the first one that came to mind after sampling Good Vodka.
Distilled from the discarded husks of coffee fruit, Good Vodka has a character unlike any other vodka I’ve tasted. There’s a richness to it, and texture. Yes, there’s an expression of coffee, but not as in a coffee-flavored vodka, or even a coffee liqueur. It’s far more subtle and complex, and truly more evocative of chocolate than coffee. Which makes sense, for as any chef will tell you, nothing brings out the essence of coffee like chocolate, and vice versa.
This is how I came to the 20th Century. A traditional 20th Century cocktail is comprised of gin shaken with Lillet Blanc, lemon, and cr.me de cacao. It’s a cocktail that achieves its harmony through a balance of opposites: the herbaceous and savory, acid and sweet, darkness and light. My initial impulse was to attempt a 20th Century using Good Vodka to enhance its chocolate essence. But this really is a different kind of vodka. Vodka isn’t generally a spirit intended for heavy contemplation neat or on the rocks, but that’s exactly how I’ve been enjoying it. Its complexities are more suited for thoughtful sipping than vigorous shaking. My conclusion was to use the flavors of the 20th Century in the context of an Old Fashioned. All of the elements are there, only reimagined to best suit the qualities of the spirit.
We’ve all been adapting as best we can. For someone as old fashioned as me, I think I did good.
The Good Old Fashioned 20th Century
Yield: 1 Cocktail
2 lemon peels
1/4 dropper Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters (cacao, cinnamon, & heat)
3/4 ounce Cocchi Americano (similar to Lillet Blanc, but with quinine: as the original “Kina Lillet”)
2 ounces Good Vodka
Combine 1 lemon peel, bitters, and Cocchi in a stirring vessel. Lightly muddle to express oil from the peel. Add vodka and ice; stir until integrated, chilled, and dilute. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass over 1 large ice cube. Garnish with remaining lemon peel.