Friday, February 13, 2009

Black and White Tincture

Tinctures & bitters & decoctions & so forth are the rage, of course. I don’t have the patience for recipes like this, but I do like to have some super secret bottles of mysterious ingredients on the back bar. Here’s one of my favorites:

Black and White Tincture

1 Vanilla Bean
Scant 2 Ounces Scharffen Berger unsweetened chocolate, 99% cacao
1 1/4 Cups high proof vodka such as Spirytus or Devil’s Spring
A jar with a lid
Cane Sugar Syrup (see below)

Roughly chop the chocolate until it is the size of chunky, irregular chocolate chips and shavings. Put the chocolate in the jar.

Split the vanilla beans in half and scrape out the insides with the edge of a sharp knife. The scrapings look like something between sevruga caviar and hashish.

Put the scrapings in the jar, chop the husks into inch lengths, and put those in the jar, as well.

Pour in vodka.

Put the mixture on a shelf and shake it every day or so for a month.

The last time I made this, I used sugar cane chunks. I want it to be a little sweeter this time, so I’m going to make cane sugar syrup (one measure cane sugar to one measure water, bring it to a boil in a saucepan, turn off the heat, pour it into a bottle -- it’s good to have it around for cocktails).

When the tincture is done, in a month or so, pour it through a strainer into another jar and slowly add some cane syrup. I’m thinking that I’ll add about a quarter of a cup.

A word of warning: do not leave the chocolate in the jar indefinitely. With some tinctures this looks really neat, but the chocolate absorbs fluid and inflates like one of those sponge toys that grow in water. Eventually, all you’ve got is a disgusting, spongy, pale jar of what looks and feels like a chocolate mousse.

When the tincture is ready, I’ll make this drink:

The King of Jordan

2 oz rye (high proof, such as Rittenhouse straight or Wild Turkey preferred but not necessary)
1/3 oz Averna (an atypical bar measurement, but you can achieve it with 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon Black and White Bitters
Lemon twist

Put a few drops of absinthe in a cocktail glass and swirl it around to thoroughly coat the inside of the glass. Discard the absinthe. Combine rye, averna, and bitters in a pint glass filled 2/3rds with ice and stir with a cocktail spoon for about thirty seconds. Strain the drink into the absinthe-rinsed cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon.

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