Thursday, February 15, 2018

What's Jayme drinking? (Hint: It's a Jaguarundi!)

I haven't done a "What's Jayme drinking?" in a while, but I'm happy to revive this feature for what I'm drinking right now. Those of you playing along at home may recall my efforts at infusing rum with jackfruit. It's easy to infuse liquors with fruit and spice flavors--pineapple, blackberry, peach and other fruits are commonly used. But if I was going to infuse a rum, I wanted it to be something exotic, that one couldn't find easy alternative sources for said flavor. I settled on jackfruit, which has a very strong tropical flavor reputed to be the inspiration for Juicy Fruit gum. To make a long story short, my infusion experiment was a success. Now I have jackfruit rum. The next question became, what do I do with it?

It was clear I needed to create a signature cocktail for the Lagoon of Mystery home tiki bar! I took the jackfruit rum and did what any good mixologist does with a new rum to get it's measure--I made a daiquiri with it. Turns out, that daiquiri was crazy sweet. When I use fruit in homebrew, the yeast converts the fruit sugars into alcohol during fermentation. But when infusing a spirit such as rum, fermentation is long past and the fruit sugars simply linger along with the flavors. That was definitely something I needed take into account when crafting my new recipe. I went back over the various recipes I'd made in the past year that I liked and came up with several elements I liked. There were Brazilian batidas, the super-fruity Chief Lapu Lapu, the spicy and complex 3 Dots and a Dash, the simple yet effective Hurricane. I focused on building upon the fruit bomb that was the jackfruit rum, and I kept coming back to a specific combination that really was a tropical explosion in the mouth. Coconut milk was a constant in many of those variations. Folks who know me know I don't really like coconut, but after my first encounter with coconut water in Jamaica a number of years ago, I've softened my opposition to the big brown nut. Batidas showed me that coconut milk could add interesting body and mouthfeel to drinks, along with a subtle, more nuanced coconut flavor than found in most commercial products. I named that drink the Coatimundi, for reasons I shall go into when I feature that drink here. But today is not that day.

Instead I'm sharing a different drink, son of Coatimundi, so to speak. During my experiments, I tried pairing the jackfruit rum with an agricole rum, which is made from pressed cane juice and has a grassy, vegetal component to it. It can actually be pretty pungent in some agricoles. That particular incarnation didn't work for what I was attempting, but I was intrigued. Once I settled on the final Coatimundi recipe, I came back to this other variation and began playing up the spicy notes and grassy notes in the agricole. What I ended up with is clearly related to the Coatimundi from the recipe notes, but at the same time a significantly different flavor. I've alternated back and forth on which I like better, but really, it comes down to which taste I'm in the mood for. Here, for the first time (drumroll please) I present the new cocktail, the Jaguarundi:

by Jayme Blaschke
1.5 oz. Jackfruit-infused rum
1 oz. Agricole vieux (Rhum Clément V.S.O.P.)
1 oz. Lime juice
1 oz. Coconut milk
.5 oz. Pineapple juice
.5 oz. Ginger syrup
.5 tsp. Grenadine (pomegranate grenadine only, skip that nasty high fructose corn syrup stuff!)
.5 tsp. Falernum
2 dashes Celery bitters (Fee Bros.)
1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin with crushed ice and shake until frost forms on outside of tin. Gated pour into poco grande glass or tiki mug (I normally use a tiki mug, but went with the poco grande this time to show off the drink better) and add crushed ice to fill (I use the ice from the mixing tin). Garnish with a pineapple frond and candied ginger on a cocktail pick. A sprig of mint is okay too, if you're so inclined.
I really like the Jaguarundi because it has multiple layers of flavor, some that almost play hide-and-seek with the palate during the course of the drink. It's a moderately sweet drink, but not as much as expected. The pineapple juice backs up the jackfruit flavors, the coconut milk provides subtle flavor and mouthfeel. The ginger syrup works very will with the agricole, and the celery bitters play up the vegetal notes. I hunted down and bought celery bitters specifically for this drink, despite the fact that I'd never tasted celery bitters before, simply because it felt like something that would work. And it did. The falernum and grenadine work as well, bringing tropical and spice notes, but it's easy to over-do them and throw everything out of whack--half a teaspoon was simply too much of either.

As for the name, Jaguarundi, first off, it's cool, tropical-sounding and not inappropriate for a tiki-inspired drink. Secondly, since I was building this drink around the vegetal, grassy notes of the agricole (as opposed to the jackfruit infusion) it struck me that a rare Texas wildcat that sticks to dense tropical vegetation would not be an inappropriate choice for this particular flavor profile. So there you have it.

If you have access to jackfruit, I highly recommend trying to infuse your own rum. I think a pound of jackfruit per 750ml is a reasonable amount. If you make some jackfruit rum, I invite you to craft your own Jaguarundi and let me know what you think. If you don't, well, make sure to visit the Lagoon of Mystery some time and I'll be happy to make one for you!

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