“She wasn’t good, but she had good intentions,” Lyle sang calmly from the radio above the stove as I thought about what I had done…nearly done, really. Everything had been just right, or so I had thought. Hundreds of times before it had all worked out, but on that night, something was different. The music was right, we had everything we might need at hand, I was being attentive. How could things have gone wrong? Well, not wrong, just not right. I knew it was my fault, it was always my fault, but why? What had I done or not done? Was I being too sweet? Were my moves too enthusiastic? Would I ever find out just what I did wrong? Let’s explore this mystery together as we stand and make the Thyme to Shine.
It is thyme, I mean time for another moonshine cocktail and this is a fun one, unless you mess it up, then it is an educational one, so it is not a total loss. This drink is another great example of the importance of ingredients and how little changes in what you use to build your drink can make a huge difference in the finished product. On one level, this is just a whiskey sour, only with un-aged corn whiskey, which makes a huge difference and an infused simple syrup, which also changes things significantly. Let’s go ahead and make the drink and we can talk about the who’s, what’s and why’s after.
Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of moonshine, I’ve got a prescription from a retired witch doctor for unlabeled bottles found under random pine trees, you may have to work a little harder to find yours or just go to a liquor store. Add 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3-4 stabs of Regan’s orange bitters, 3/4 of an ounce of egg white or aquafaba and 1 1/2 ounces of thyme simple syrup, this is a basic 1:1 simple with a handful of fresh thyme steeped in it for 15 minutes and then strained out. Do not add ice and dry shake vigorously to the beat of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” any version will do, but watch the video of Geoffrey Rush killing it as David Helfgott if you want an insight into why I chose it for this drink. Well, the reason I chose that version, the song itself is clearly an amazing song to shake to, in fact I shook so vigorously that my tins popped apart from built up pressure. Since they were open I added ice and went again for our traditional shake. I did this so well that a thin sheen of ice formed on the outside of my tins and they were very hard to break apart, even using all the tricks. So, I knew that I had shaken well. Double strain this ice cold mixture into a chilled coupe and garnish with a single piece of thyme. I used German thyme for the simple mix and it would have been prettier for the picture, but I inadvertently picked up a piece of French thyme for the garnish, these things do happen.
I should have noticed this, I had plenty of thyme to choose from and some time to kill. When we do one of the egg white drinks, I always have to wait a few moments to photograph it, to give the foam a chance to separate and rise top the top. That’s how you get those beautiful hard lines between the foam and drink, all the better if there is a color contrast, which there would have been today, except, the foam never rose. So that was a failure, but why? There are a number of possibilities, but I settled on three main ones, so you can avoid them in the future. One, it could be bad egg whites, old eggs and really fresh ones both have a foaming problem sometimes, so maybe mine was not “just right”. Another issue with foam is sugar. Lots of sugar cuts down on your foam volume, though it helps maintain what foam you get. On the other hand, lots of acid from your juices helps make more foam. There are even drinks where you dry shake without your sugar element and add it with the ice for the final shake in order to fix the higher volume of foam. As you may have noticed, this drink has a ton of thyme simple syrup in it, so that may have been an issue. The third possibility is that I just shake too well. I really went overboard on this one, not sure why. Maybe I got distracted, maybe it was the rhythm of those keys running up and down the scales, maybe I was shaking out the frustrations of the day, which could take a while. Whatever the reason I shook the hell out of this drink and maybe I over-incorporated the egg white, I certainly over chilled the drink. The truth is, it was probably a combination of all of these factors or the higher probable proof of my unlabeled moonshine of supernatural origin. Maybe if I had waited five minutes it would have gone ahead and separated out, maybe it would not have, we will never know, because I just through some French thyme on top and took the picture.
It is an interesting drink though. I am never sure about un-aged corn whiskey drinks, I don’t have a wide experience, but I like this one. It’s a bit sweet, which makes sense with that much simple in it. The thyme adds a really nice light flavor and since we did not get a nice foam head on this one we did get a fully incorporated egg white, so the mouth feel on this is smooth and creamy and incredible. So wins and losses, like usual.
On some level, I really don’t like to mess up, but if you don’t make mistakes you never learn anything. It bothered me that things did not turn out as I had expected, so I had to do some research. Based on that research, I should have done more experimentation and tracked down a solution. Instead, I just enjoyed my drink and did a little light reading while David Helfgott played Rachmaninov in the background. Sometimes, you have to learn to just let things go and worry about them tomorrow. Not every problem needs to be solved right now, or even worried about. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.