When I first proposed “Floral” as the theme for Mixology Monday, I had figured I would make some type of gin punch using a chamomile or jasmine infused gin. But that was way back in the Fall. By the time it actually rolled around, I had attended a book opening party for Left Coast Libations at Heaven’s Dog where a number of the recipes from the book were being featured for the event. Although all the drinks we tried that night were fantastic, this particular one really stood out from the pack. I wasn’t the only one who thought so – the bartenders were slammed making these all night.
The recipe requires two unusual ingredients. First, you’ll need sandalwood (and not the kind in incense!) I recommend hunting around in Indian grocery stores. The other involves making a sharbat. Sharbat is a type of flavored, non-alcoholic drink from the Middle East and India, served over ice. Sharbat comes from the Arabic word ‘Sharbah’, meaning ‘a drink’. It’s a syrup made from fruits and extracts of flowers and herbs. Common flavorings include rose, sandalwood, saffron, hibiscus, pineapple and citrus. The syrup gets diluted with water or evaporated milk and served with ice. It can also be used to pour over desserts. The sharbat here uses rose and saffron as its flavors, providing a rich floral perfume to the drink, which is built off a gin sour. A healthy amount of bitters adds an earthy tang, with a finish of sandalwood rounding out the exotic spices. I could drink these all night long.
1 1/2 oz. Plymouth gin
1/2 z. lemon juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. saffron sharbat (see below)
1 barspoon Angostura bitters
1 egg white
Dry shake without ice for 20-30 seconds. Add ice and shake until frosty. Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with grated sandalwood.
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup rosewater
1/4 rounded tsp. saffron
1 Tbs. boiling water
Place 1 Tbs. boiling water into a small bowl and add crushed saffron threads. Steep for 15 minutes. Add rosewater.
Mix water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and dissolve. Add rosewater saffron mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool and store in bottle. Store in refridgerator. You can leave in saffron threads or strain. Makes enough for 16 cocktails. Can also be used as a flavored syrup with soda water.