MxMo: Cocktail Etoufee

Now without a doubt, this MxMo will break down into three distinct groups. The tikiphiles out there will whip up a bunch drinks from Don the Beachcomber, a New Orlinian. The classicists out there will be slinging milk punches, sazeracs, absinthes suisse, and vieux carres like they're going out of fashion, not coming back in. Meanwhile the innovators will be modifying more modern New Orleans specialties like the obituary cocktail, the corpse reviver, and even the hurricane.

I hate going with trends, and I'm nowhere near good enough to make something that will stand out if I were to go with the trends, so that kind of leaves me stuck without too much to go on. I mean, the theme is New Orleans, and if I'm not going with a drink hailing from New Orleans, how am I to fill that challenge? As I was thinking this and despairing, an old joke came to my rescue:

"How does a creole chef change a light bulb?"
"Well, fus', he make a roux..."

And how does a creole chef make a cocktail?
"Well, fus', he make a roux..."

And with that I was off and running. After that, I got another bit of inspiration from one of my good friends from New Orleans, the guy who gave me my first mixed drink. The drink was known as a "Witch's Brew" and I think has more to do with college than it does with New Orleans. First, you take an American pale lager, and to that you add a shot of whatever cheap spirits you have hanging around. Sounds yummy, dunnit? The last thing I needed came from a previous post on chocolate pairing, where I thought to use a solid, food ingredient, as a "virtual ingredient" in the cocktail.

With my three bits of inspiration together, I was ready to go. The first step, was a roux. A roux, for those of you who aren't familiar, is mixture of roughly half fat and half flour that is cooked over medium heat. It is the mother the French "mother sauces" and thickens everything from gravy to gumbo...to cocktails. That was my hope was to get a nice thickening effect to get some extra mouth feel. Meanwhile, the proteins in the flour would act the same way egg or milk proteins do in egg and milk drinks. The longer you cook a roux, the more flavor you get out of it, but the less it can thicken whatever liquid you add it to. You start out with a white or blonde roux, and you progress in slowly darkening color until you get a "black roux," which is when your roux burns and becomes useless. In Creole cuisine, the tradition is to use what is known as a brick roux which is where you cook your roux until it is brick red. Unfortunately, that's about a shade shy of the black roux, and thus very easy to overcook. Instead, I went with a peanut butter roux, which was cooked until the color you can see at the right.

I had prepared a beer syrup in advance, using a cup of decarbonized beer, and a packed cup of brown sugar for reasons that will soon be apparent. I slowly added the cold syrup to the hot roux, stirring the entire time until it was all combined. The flour, in addition to everything else, also acted as an emulsifier. With a roux made up of a quarter cup butter, and a quarter cup flour, the whole mess came to a cup and a half of roux-thickened beer syrup.

I paired a chocolate chip shortbread with my cocktail. This used half of the roux-thickened beer syrup (3/4 c.), one and seven eighths of a cup of butter, two cups of brown sugar, which were mixed together, and then three cups of flour and a generous amount of chopped chocolate was added in. The mixture was poured into a sheet pan to bake for twenty minutes, then cut into finger-sized pieces.

All that was left was to assemble my cocktail:
The Witch's Broux Cocktail
  • 3 pt. (2.25 oz.) - Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
  • 1 pt. (.75 oz.) - Roux Thickened Beer Syrup (see above)
  • 7-8 dashes - Aromatic Bitters (Peychoud's)
Shake whiskey and syrup in a shaker and strain into an short tumbler full of ice. Spread thickened syrup over a piece of shortbread, and serve next to the cocktail. Garnish with a brandied cherry, and sprinkle bitters gently on top, instructing the drinker to give a stir before drinking.

While I did not have any cherries handy, the layering of the bitters on top gives the drink a pleasant appearance. In addition, by putting the bitters in at the end, the aroma of the bitters fills the glass, which is a pleasant bonus. I find that cherries tend to work as an excellent garnish for anything containing Peychoud's bitters as it has some very pleasant cherry notes. It would be interesting to cut back a tad on the syrup, or at least its sweetness, and coat the glass in marascino to accent the cherry notes. Even without any actual cherries, this cocktail has a pleasant cherry taste, which plays quite nicely with the fruitiness of the summer ale I used for the syrup, and especially with the apple notes in the rye. My only other question for this cocktail was whether I should call it the "Witch's Broux cocktail" after one of the key inspirations or whether I should call it the "Cocktail Etoufee" as etoufee is a roux with onions, pepper, and seafood cooked in it. My thought was to reserve the cocktail etoufee for more of a savory cocktail, but let me know what you think in the comments.

Be sure to check out the wrapup and also my previous entry, which I put up when I heard MxMo was delayed.

I bid you good drinking,
The Scribe

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