The metamorphosis of this week’s cocktail was a bit of a long and winding road. A road, in point of fact, that begins France or thereabouts* and ends somewhere in or near Morocco. Neither place I’ve been but both I’d like to visit one of these days.
At any rate, it started back when I was, oh, 10 or 11 years old and a family friend was being cute(?) and singing the song “Jennifer, Juniper“ and saying that my name (Jennifer) meant Juniper. Now, being the precocious child I was I had already looked up the meaning of my name in the massive Encyclopedic Dictionary we had at home and knew full well that Jennifer is a modernization of Guinevere and had absolutely nothing to do with junipers. And told them so. Snootily.
Despite the misleading connection in the song, it did make me think of Gin–one of our two base spirit options for this series–which only left me figuring out what to add. I went through several j-possibilties and eventually devolved into j-sounding ingredients and ginger was the winner.
Now, at first I was going to be cute and spell it Jin and Jinger but I needed something else. Namely, another ingredient, another flavor. And looking around my bar shelves I found rosewater and that was all it took. Suddenly my mind was filled with the scent of chai, we needed spice and we needed it now!
1 1/2 oz Gin
1/4 oz Rosewater
1/4 oz Grated Ginger
a generous pinch of Cardamom
1 oz Ginger Ale
Crystallized Ginger for garnish
Combine gin, rosewater, ginger and cardamom over ice and give it a good shake to wake up the genie inside. Double-strain (to get out all the ginger bits) into a chilled cocktail glass, top with the ginger ale and garnish with a piece of crystallized ginger.
The flavors of the drink are well-layered, each one asserting itself as you continue to sip. First comes the rosewater–the scent is very strong and dominant, followed by the warm, sweetish flavor of the cardamom. Under that, the bite of the ginger starts to assert itself and, subtly at the bottom is the herbal taste of the gin. It’s what I imagine a small spice market would taste like.
Usually I’d infuse the alcohol with the spice but this time it really wasn’t necessary. Cardamom is so expensive that a suitable quantity for infusion would have been risky and the dried spice shaken in was plenty to get the point across. If you’ve never had cardamom that you know of, it reminds me of Apple Jacks cereal.