The theme for this Mixology Monday (hosted at Save the Drinkers) is Local Flavor. The idea is to make a drink featuring local ingredients. I will treat New Zealand as my locality. During my temporary sojourn in the Dominican Republic I have no bar besides a couple of bottles of rum. I think I should blog on a drink I invented a few years ago and had the foresight to photograph.
Sensitive readers should be aware that this drink contains vodka.
Those open-minded and inquisitive readers that are still with me will be wondering the circumstances that led me to invent a vodka drink. You can blame the arrival in China of 42 Below vodka. An Australian friend of mine with a bar in Shanghai was impressed with 42 Below. I think he was impressed with the marketing more than the product, and you have to admit that some of it is hilarious. Anyway, my friend asked me to invent some house cocktails, featuring New Zealand’s very own 42 Below. My reward was free alcohol and the chance to strike at the French via creative cocktail nomenclature.
Even the cocktail inventing was not entirely joyless. Vodka may be the most boring spirit in the world, but occasionally you find a flavored vodka that offers you a taste you would otherwise have trouble getting in a drink. Poland’s Zubrovka (flavored with bison grass) is one example. New Zealand’s 42 Below Feijoa is another.
The kiwifruit flavor may not have been such a good idea. In New Zealand we seem to suffer a compulsion to produce kiwifruit everything (candy, liqueurs, soap, juices, facial scrubs, and much more), then plead with tourists to take the crap off our hands.
Feijoa is a different story. While the fruit is native to Brazil, it is oddly popular in New Zealand. While efforts have been made to cultivate it in quite a few countries, I do not know of anywhere else it is taken on in quite the same way. Visitors to New Zealand are often unfamiliar with it so I am guessing not many places grow it on any scale. Even in New Zealand it only began to be sold in supermarkets fairly recently. It was popular long before the supermarkets took it up, but was the type of fruit people either had in their gardens, acquired from neighbors, or bought at the side of the road. Feijoa is an under-appreciated fruit with an interesting flavor (something like a weird twist on a guava), and seeing it show up as a vodka flavor was good. Finally, an interesting flavored vodka, and with a local flavor to boot!
You could do all kinds of things with this stuff. It should be great in Tiki drinks. However, I went for a simple riff on a classic French high-ball, a cognac and tonic. Then, in recognition of my debt to the French, I named the drink in a manner calculated to cause them embarrassment and offense. Really though, what kind of nation sends their special forces to blow up a Greenpeace protest vessel? What kind of secret agents get caught because of a neighborhood watch group? The French are truly special.
The Rainbow Warrior
1 oz Cognac (or other decent Armagnac or brandy – since it gets cut with vodka a robust Armagnac is not a bad choice)
1 oz 42 Below Feijoa
1 lime wedge (lemon will do in a pinch)
Build over ice in a collins glass, squeezing the lime wedge to extract the juice. Serve with a straw. Show your angry side by garnishing with a burning French flag, or be humorous and use a mechanical bath toy in the shape of a frog or a scuba diver. It all depends how you are feeling about the French that day.
The above makes for a pleasant, fruity, and slightly exotic twist on a cognac and tonic. Recommended if you have 42 Below Feijoa lying around.
Needless to say the Chinese barmen soon began ‘improving’ the recipe. The drink morphed into vodka, peach schnapps, and soda, and subsequently died a deserved death. Here you have the drink in its original version.