The after-dinner drink is one of those old world traditions that Americans, even the most culinary obsessed, never seemed to have embraced. Our lack of interest in eau de vie, grappa, and aquavit, those potent spirits meant to act as digestifs after a big meal, may be due to the pace of our lives, rather than our taste. But put into a cocktail, and suddenly we're aware of the nuances, flavors, and aromas.
Take the Baltic Mule ($10, Krogstad Aquavit, lime, ginger, cucumber) at Delarosa that lead bartender Matt Harrison makes. "We picked up aquavit at Delarosa because it was an under-appreciated spirit," said Harrison. "At first, we left it in the fridge and did chilled shots as per Scandinavian tradition."
After doing a shot, he noted that the savory flavors of the aquavit reminded him of rye bread. "[It] reminded me of when I lived in Germany and often when I'd go visit Germans at their house, I'd be offered a snack of rye bread, butter and cucumber slices," he said. Taking a basic mule recipe, the category of drinks that incorporates ginger, lime, and a spirit, and tweaking it with cucumbers and aquavit seemed like an obvious idea -- the flavors feel like old pals. Savory, yet refreshing with the mild heat and fragrance of the ginger melds together perfectly. The caraway and cumber make a lovely combination, and the anise lifts the sweetness slightly without tasting too much like black licorice.
Will this drink get you to start drinking shots after dinner? Probably not, but it just might get you to start drinking a lot more aquavit.
2 oz. Krogstad Aquavit
1 oz. Lime juice
¾ oz. Ginger solution*
½ oz. Simple syrup
5 Small chunks cucumber
1 dash orange bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice. Double strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Top with soda water and ice. Garnish with a speared cucumber to garnish.
*Ginger solution: blend one part simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) with two parts ginger, strain.
Delarosa, 2175 Chestnut (at Pierce), 673-7100