From the flurry of post this week, you might be able to tell that the Amateur Cocktilian is off this week. We’re experiencing a new phenomenon – the staycation: off from work, but going nowhere. It’s actually quite nice. I have a chance to be a regular dad and husband. No early mornings or late nights away from home. We’ve gotten in a couple of good hikes, saw our first movie at the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Co.’s Merrimon location (had the Scottish ale, a little watery). Also, I’m taking some time to catch up on a few choirs around the house. My vinegar needed tending to. Wine has been the primary beverage of choice around these parts. It is the go-to liquid most nights. A year or two ago a friend sent me an article from The Art of Eating ( #68, 2004 pp 12-23) about making your own vinegar. I was struck, and started dumping the scraps of unfinished bottles into a 5 gallon carboy I had from my old beer and winemaking days. That plus a vinegar starter culture got me into the vinegar business. There is not much to screw up. Vinegar is the last step for wine gone bad. The carboy slowly fills to about the 4 gallon point every six months or so. I give it an eight week period with no more additions, then I pull off about three gallons, bottle it and start again. The vinegar goes into old wine bottles (reduce, reuse, recycle…) is corked and then foisted onto friends and family. I think I’ve exhausted the good will of all my possible recipients. Now I use good wine corks, put a year on the bottle and “cellar” it. Look for me at the Tailgate Markets in about 20 years with some expensive, vintage red wine vinegar for sale.

All that vinegar activity got me thinking back to a vinegar gastrique I made a few weeks back. I followed a recipe in Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Imbibe magazine from Robert Huegel. It is a simple syrup flavored with orange juice, coriander and white wine vinegar. The vinegar gives at acidity. While I was cooking it, a lot of the acetic acid cooked off and kept my eyes watering. The final product has a beautiful orange color. It seems to be holding up well in the fridge for going on four weeks now.

The syrup is used to make a Margarita. From the proportions, it looks like it is just an addition to the standard recipe (1/2 oz per drink). I made one following the recipe given with the gastrique recipe. The orange color dominates and the orange flavor is prominent. It was a little too sweet for me. Plus, I like rum more than tequila. That lead to this:

  • 2 oz Jamacain rum
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau (3/4 oz called for in the Margarita)
  • 1/2 oz orange-coriander gastrique

Shake and strain.

Orangey to the point you might be able to skip the Cointreau.

BTW if you see someone dumpster diving for wine bottles in the north Asheville recycling bins, you will have encountered the Amateur Cocktail Guy. Say hello, I might have a a bottle of vinegar for you.