DOTW: Sun Witch

Posted by Anita on 10.05.07 7:04 AM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedAs I walked down the escalator to baggage claim at the Las Vegas airport, Mom glanced at the jacket slung over my arm, a wide smile breaking across her face.

“Did you need that coat at home?” she quipped. “You sure won’t need it here!”

When temperatures hover in the 90s in the late afternoon, even in October, you begin to wonder if Las Vegas might not be enchanted by some sort of spell: a warped incantation that keeps the Southern Nevada desert sparkling-hot at the same time as the rest of the country is starting to think seriously about airing out their woolen sweaters and setting a savory stew on the fire.

The notion of a mischievous spirit was never far from my mind as I dug deeper into my cocktail books and online sources for another suitable Strega cocktail. As I sweltered away, I sampled tall drinks, fizzy drinks, and citrus-spiked drinks designed to beat the heat. But they all felt a little blah, like unimaginative variations on better-known concoctions. I kept wishing that I could add an ingredient or two, play with proportions, and generally jack up the flavors. But tempting though that notion was, it’s entirely contrary to the purpose of “Raiders of the Lost Cocktail” — to rescue an existing recipe from cocktail oblivion.

Digging through the eGullet archives for cocktail-book suggestions for further research, I stumbled upon an old Strega thread. In the midst of a general discussion of Strega’s merits and quirks, I noticed a mention of an unnamed Strega cocktail served at Seattle’s Troiani restaurant. Enchanted by the description of a drink that “starts fresh and strong and ends like a wisp of dessert”, I knew I had to add this to my trials.

Unfortunately, the post dated from the restaurant’s early days… many moons and several staff-changes ago. Ever hopeful, I called Troiani one afternoon and asked if anyone in the bar might remember the drink’s proportions. Unsurprisingly, the answer was no. (Well, more like “Huh? What’s Stray Gull?”) Nobody could even tell me who might have tended bar there, all those eons ago — two and a half years is an eternity in the restaurant world.

All I had to go on was a list of ingredients in the post: Vodka, Strega, crème de cacao, orange and lemon juice, with a vanilla cream float. Nothing like that existed in any of the books at my disposal, nor in CocktailDB or any other familiar online source; it must have been someone’s in-house creation. Over on a site called DrinksMixer — where their ‘Most Popular’ sidebar inauspiciously lists the Apple Martini, Jager Bomb, and Long-Island Ice Tea among the top five — I noticed a similar drink, with a most appropriate name.

If it were mine to tinker with, I’d suggest you make the Sun Witch with a lighter hand on the creme de cacao. If you do as Troiani’s sadly anonymous bartender did, adding lemon juice and vodka, you’ll enjoy a lighter finish… at least as far as these sorts of milkshake drinks go. If you’re in the mood for a dessert cocktail, you could do far worse than to fall under the Sun Witch spell.

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved

Strega Sun Witch
1 oz Strega liqueur
3/4 oz white creme de cacao
3/4 oz orange juice
1 oz whipping cream
Orange slice, for garnish

Shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of orange.

Sun Witch a la Troiani
1 oz Strega liqueur
1/2 oz vodka
1/4 oz white creme de cacao
1/2 oz orange juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz whipping cream
vanilla extract or vanilla liqueur, to taste

Lightly whip the cream with the vanilla; set aside. Shake the remaining ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with the vanilla cream, and garnish with a light grating of orange zest.

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Comment by Sylvia

Those drinks are amazing,wonderful post

Posted on 10.05.07 at 6:51PM

Pingback by The Spirit World - » Raiders of the Lost Cocktail #1

[...] Anita talks about this particular drink over on her blog. [...]

Posted on 10.29.07 at 7:06PM

Pingback by Well Fed Network - » Raiders of the Lost Cocktail #1

[...] Anita talks about this particular drink over on her blog. [...]

Posted on 10.30.07 at 8:02AM

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