My initial round of experimentation with passion fruit showed how aromatic it is. Therefore I decided to partner it with pisco, an aromatic spirit. The obvious starting point was the pisco sour.
Passion Fruit Pisco Sour
2 oz pisco
¾ oz passion fruit pulp (I used a whole passion fruit, which yielded roughly ¾ oz of pulp – not juice!)
½ oz lime juice
¼ oz simple syrup
1 egg white
Shake long and hard over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
I deliberately didn’t double stain, hoping the passion fruit seeds would end up as an attractive garnish on the bottom of the glass. This didn’t happen. About three seeds made it to where they were supposed to go. This was not quite the effect I was after. Maybe double strain and forget about trying to achieve this effect, or simply garnish with a teaspoon of passion fruit pulp in the bottom of the glass?
It seems best to leave out the Angostura garnish on the foam. I experimented with a drop of Angostura on one corner of the drink, but it seemed to distract too much from the delicate passion fruit aroma. Of course some may like it.
This drink made a beautiful pisco sour variation. The passion fruit and pisco make nice partners, and there is no doubting the passion fruit adds some extra complexity.
Since passion fruit comes from the Amazon, and since Pisco also comes from South America I am labeling my further experiments (involving pisco and agricole rum) ‘Amazonian cocktails’.
Amazonian Cocktail #1
2 oz pisco
¾-1 oz passion fruit pulp (my passion fruit was especially big so it gave me practically an ounce of pulp)
½ oz lime juice
¾ oz St. Germain
1 egg white
Shake hard over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
I had envisaged a drink that improved on the above by adding some subtle complexity in the form of St. Germain. I think the St. Germain ended up distracting too much from the passion fruit though. Maybe ½ oz of St. Germain would be better? This is a pleasant drink, but the passion fruit doesn’t jump out like I want it to. Perhaps it just needs tweaking?
Maybe my best drink came last. . .
Amazonian Cocktail #2 (or The Fitzcarraldo)
1 ½ oz pisco
¾ oz passion fruit pulp
¾ oz dry apricot brandy (i.e. a eau de vie, not a liqueur)
2 tsp Grand Marnier
1 tsp Grenadine
This is just a reworking of the Dulchin, substituting passion fruit for the lime juice. Though I say it myself, this is pretty damn good. The passion fruit makes a much softer and more approachable drink than the Dulchin, yet one that is no less interesting. The combination of pisco, passion fruit and apricot eau de vie provides tons of aromatic complexity. The pisco is easy to pick, but the apricot and passion fruit mesh into a single exotic flavor. While sweeter made with passion fruit than the original Dulchin, it is not too sweet. It could certainly be reworked (playing around with the Grand Marnier and Grenadine?), but this is close to being a pretty good drink. The color is beautiful too.
So why did I call this the Fitzcarraldo? I have always been fascinated by the city of Manaus, the remote Brazilian Amazon town that was the site of a big rubber boom in the late 19th and early 20th century. One of the famous stories of the Manaus boom years concerns the grand opera house that was built there. Legend has it that Enrico Caruso himself was scheduled to perform there but for various reasons never made it. No sooner was the opera house completed than the rubber economy collapsed, and Manaus reverted to a remote jungle backwater marking the furthest boundaries of civilization. Werner Herzog directed a movie, Fitzcarraldo (1982), about the dreamer behind the construction of the Manaus opera house. This last drink seems as good a drink as any to christen the Fitzcarraldo. The drink combines Brazilian passion fruit with Peruvian pisco (this makes sense because Manaus is closer to Peru than to most places in Brazil). Meanwhile, European apricot brandy and Grand Marnier bring some Old World refinement to the remote frontier.