It’s all about experimentation. Trying new things, finding out what works and what doesn’t, making sure your results are reproducible. This week I saw the scientific method described as “fuck around and find out”. I can’t argue with that. So let’s get in the garden and contemplate artichokes as we fuck around with the Cynar Sour.
I love sours of all types. There is just something about that creamy mouthfeel, whether you use the original egg white method or go with the vegan version and use chickpea juice, also known as aquafaba. While there is nothing wrong with a classic Whiskey Sour or even it’s peanut butter infused cousin the PB&J Sour, I have been especially thrilled with some of the weirder variations, like the Angostura Bitters heavy Trinidad Sour or even wilder versions featuring Braulio, Nocino, Amaro Montenegro and Fernet-Branca. This classic creation somehow lends itself to softening and expanding the more bitter end of the flavor spectrum. Since, we have had good luck in the past with the other amaros I decided to break out the Cynar and press my luck.
I was first introduced to Cynar as a milder alternative to Campari, which often just hits me the wrong way. It is a wonderfully bitter artichoke based amaro with just enough bite. In fact, the name comes from the latin sobriquet for the globe artichoke, Cynara cardunculus. You get that same gorgeous red hue as Campari, but Cynar gives you a nice playful bitter nudge, where Campari kicks and punches you in the palate for a while before it steals your wallet and girlfriend and/or boyfriend, as the case may be. I’m a big fan of bitter stuff and this one hits right in my wheelhouse, sure it’s bitter, but not dangerously or maliciously so.
This is a shaken drink so grab your tins. I am still experimenting with my new set from C&D Tools. No, they did not give them to me or do anything special except make an interesting looking product and run a Memorial Day sale. They are super heavy weight stainless steel and they hold their chill, so I am extra curious as to how they are going to affect my dry shake. Anyways, take those tins and pop in 2 ounces of Cynar, 1/4 ounce of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 ounce of agave nectar and an egg white or 1/2 an ounce of aquafaba. Add ice and give it a good shake to the beat of Tori Amos’ “Silent All These Years” because you have forgotten how surprisingly wonderful that song, and indeed the entire album is. When your tins are well chilled and forming a nice frosty sheen, strain from one to the other and discard the ice before going for a second reverse dry shake. I usually do this for 30 second or so, but you do you. Pour into something lovely and garnish with some cucumber slices on a pick and a little orange zest.
Clearly those tins work well for creating that signature sour foam, maybe a little too well. This is going to take a little more fucking around so we can find out if it is something to do with the increased heft of the tins and their unique thermal qualities or if I just had an especially foamy egg white. I’ve got no problem with that, I love to experiment. The drink, though, is lovely. Wonderfully bittersweet, earthy notes, a little vanilla peeking out from under the covers blending into a caramel burnt sugar thing that I adore. The nose from that orange zest on the foam really makes a difference as well. I am not surprised that this one is super tasty, the amaros, or is it amari, seem to shine in sours.
I am not worried that this one turned out as expected, in fact, I am glad we decided to test that hypothesis. Too often we don’t bother to do the work when it comes to foregone conclusions. I had a pretty good idea what this was going to taste like and it lived up to those expectations, but it was important to confirm that. What if the artichoke wasn’t present enough and the maraschino had jumped to the forefront? Sure, it would not have changed the world, but it is still something we needed to know. Well, it is if we were going to recommend this one or make decisions based on what we thought about it. If that is too veiled for you, lets take a moment and peel back the petals of this artichoke. The moral of the story is, always take the time to test your beliefs. Make sure they stand up to scrutiny. If they are well-founded, you should not have any trouble having them tested or watching other folks question them. That’s the best thing about science, it doesn’t matter whether you believe or not, it simply is. If you can test something and come up with a reproducible result, you can probably count on it. If it requires allowances or you have to overlook the results sometimes or if other folks can’t do the same thing you can with the same ingredients, well, maybe a little more thought should go into it. Not to say you can’t still believe. “Where I’m from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history.” said the small grey Tony award winner to the Tony award winning lady in green. It’s true, lots of folks believe all kinds of falsehoods everyday, so it’s important to know when you are kidding yourself. Of course, your mileage may vary. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.