Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Seasonal Produce & A Last Stab at Winter

Yesterday's foul weather, hopefully the last incidence of heavy snow this season, coupled with a weekend trip to one of my favorite farmer's markets, reminded me of a drink I haven't enjoyed in quite a while. This is not entirely unusual - many of my drinks go with what's good at the time - I'll often pick up ingredients & whip up new or variant drinks a la minute.

Unfortunately many of these fall victim to my less-than-stellar memory, suffer from the vagaries of seasonal ingredients (often considered a lightly-stocked 'specialty' or 'novelty' product by the local grocers), or are merely set aside for later use in the wake of something new (or something old which happens to be new to me). In any case, while out stocking up on provisions, I happened upon a selection of ripe Blood Oranges - my second-favorite (only nominally behind Tangerines) winter produce, and happily snapped up a bunch of them.

A natural mutation of sweet and bitter Oranges cultivated for many years throughout the Mediterranean, Blood Oranges are a delightful dichotomy of flavors. They are somewhat sweet at first, particularly at the height of their season, with a discernibly tart, almost berry-like, finish. Depending on variety, season and regional climate/light conditions where they are grown, Blood Oranges vary greatly in appearance both inside and out. Some varieties/crops are more blood-colored inside, while the flesh of others are more similar to pink/reddish-tinted oranges in appearance. Likewise, while the skin of many varieties/crops are mottled in texture and often feature darker patches of color, others are smooth & bright in outward appearance.

No matter their look, Blood Oranges generally make a fantastic addition to cocktails, as many of my fellow cocktailians will attest. Substituting them into any number of libations what call for fresh Oranges makes for a wonderful depth of flavor and an attractive, darker coloration. Depending on where they hail from, Blood Oranges have a fair breadth of season too. While they are cultivated heavily in the Mediterranean, the best (in flavor and coloration) U.S. varieties tend to, in my humble opinion, hail from Texas and California. The ones I purchased were brought in, late season, from Texas; soon I suspect, the California varieties will (if they show up at all) soon be on the shelves.

So, with Blood Oranges in hand, I pondered a drink to use some of them in - as they are quite a treat for me I utilize them as often as possible in cocktails when given even half a chance to do so. After a thusly-enhanced Bronx Cocktail, I finally settled on the following lovely little take on the California or Stone Sour, which plays up the fruity tartness of the Oranges & adds a few sharp, bittersweet notes through the use of the delightfully-bitter Italian liquor Aperol. Go on out and snag some Blood Oranges if you can, give them a whirl in anything that tickles your fancy; or give the wintery weather a good-riddance and take a stab at this little beauty (©):

Jacknife Sour
1½ oz. Laird's Applejack
½ oz. Aperol
1 oz. fresh Blood Orange juice
¼ oz. fresh Lemon juice
1 oz. Simple syrup
1x fresh Egg white
1 dash: Honey Tangerine bitters (substitute Regan's or The Bitter Truth Orange bitters)
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass & dry-shake. Add ice and shake well; strain into a chilled cocktail or sour glass and granish with a flamed twist of Blood Orange.

Check back soon for another (likewise neglected for reasons unknown) use for this delightful winter citrus - a fantastic Blood Orange-infused Cachaça...

Cheers & Enjoy!


Tiare said...

That was one of the reddest and most beautiful blood aranges i`ve seen. The ones i get here only have a hint of red..now i get jealous!

Anyway, tasty they are and this winter i have used them extensively and by this post of yours i actually get reminded that i haven´t seen them for a while, season over already? hope not..

Beautiful cocktail and great post as usual!



Kaiser Penguin said...

The jacknife sounds delightful Chris. Blood oranges seem to be hit or miss here in central PA, both in availability and quality.

Chris "Rookie" Stanley said...

The season on Blood Oranges is so funny - the ones from Texas are (supposedly) available from December until now, but undoubtedly get edged out by other winter citrus (Tangerines & Clementines).

Meanwhile, the California (& generally crappy Florida) ones start becoming available from now until late April, but only actually show up for a week or two.

Glad you like the look of it Rick - the formula is a pretty solid one, subbing D. Canton in for the Aperol is also quite nice (though reduce the simple a touch).