Thursday, July 1, 2010
John's Stone Fruit Sangria
In a Shot: Guests have been asking when a new Sangria was going to be available at the bar so I created one using July's local stone fruits with rose, bourbon & ginger ale.
The last time I made a Sangria, was a few years ago, iconically off season creating a unique "Fall Harvest Sangria" utilizing concord grape juice, fresh grapes, lemons, local apples with French and American apple brandies. Instead of using traditional Spanish red wine for the Sangria I chose to use a dry french rose. It was such a hit and people often ask when I'm going to utilize my talents to produce another fantastic Sangria.
Well, in lieu of the many different fruits coming into this month's seasonal bounty, I decided this was the time to make a comeback. Utilizing a french rose again as well as lemon juice (being the only two components repeated), I decided to base the drink on peaches and bourbon (a widely popular combination) and other stone fruits such as fresh cherries and locally harvest apricots. Since the peaches have yet to surface in the restaurant and the cocktail needing to be ready by the first I went with apricots as the base fruit for the cocktail.
At first, I attempted to juice fresh apricots with lemon juice (hoping the lemon juice would slow down the oxidation process). Juicing apricots straight up ends in a resulting brown, watery sour mess that is unappetizing and virtually flavorless. To get the right color, texture, tartness and bright apricot flavor, I was going to need to make a nectar. I discovered that by simply blanching the apricots first by steeping in boiling water for just a few minutes then flash cooling them in an ice water bath, I could easily remove the skins from the apricots leaving that wonderful apricot color. The stone seed came out so easily and from there I took the produce and liquefied them in a high powered blender starting slowly and gradually moving to the highest speed. The result is a smoothie thick apricot nectar. All that needed to happen now was add the right amount of water, simple syrup and lemon juice till I reached the consistency and flavor I was looking for. This stuff is INCREDIBLE! Honestly, if anybody else does this, I recommend saving some and mixing it with brandy for fresh apricot sours or coming up with your own summer cocktails!
Sugar cuts against the acid when making a sangria blend, so be careful how much bourbon you put in your mix, as I discovered. At first the only thing I could taste was rose, then I could only taste apricot, but once I added that simple syrup, bit by bit the bourbon started to surface, the rose started to subdue, the acidity of the apricot took the back drop and all the flavors started to come together harmoniously. Macerating the cherries, apricots and eventually peaches in bourbon will fortify the fruits allowing them to keep longer in the mix as well as bring out other hidden flavors.
The final step was to add some effervescence. I tried different carbonated options and found that ginger ale brings out a surprising amount of cherry flavor regardless of how little there is in the cocktail entirely (It also probably pulls that flavor from the french rose as well). The result is a very well balanced blend of ice cold summer fruit juices, spirits and bubbles. Here's to the summer, here's to the companionship, here's to the food and here's to the cocktails that bring everybody together.