DOTW: Firelight

Posted by Anita on 12.28.07 7:03 AM

(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reservedAs 2007 slips away, our thoughts turn to cocktails we’d want to sip while curled up on the sofa with a good book or a fascinating companion. To my mind, the best drinks for the shortest nights mix spicy holiday flavors with a dash of new year’s sparkle.

We wanted to pair these classic year-end tastes with seasonal citrus, given the incredible varieties gracing our farmers market. Initially, we tried blood-orange juice, elderflower liqueur, and Champagne, but we weren’t happy with the look — it screamed “Jello shot” rather than whispering “cocktail”. When we tried less garishly colored juices, our sparkler felt more like a complicated Mimosa than a cozy evening tipple.

Spying a small bottle of the Charbay Ruby Red grapefruit vodka in a pricey St. Helena liquor emporium, we decided to try a different route to the citrus belt. (Are you turning up your nose at flavored vodka? Don’t. These folks mean business: They use real fruit and old-world recipes. And they’re local. To us, anyway.) The vodka’s grapefruit-peel bitterness tempers the floral sweetness of the liqueur; the bubbly brightens the drink, while Fee’s whiskey-barrel bitters add a masculine depth.

Speaking of the Fee’s: If Santa didn’t leave you a bottle of these delectable drops in your stocking, you need to correct this error yourself. Yes, they’re worth the shocking premium over the cost of regular bitters, and you might have to break down and pay for shipping. If you have to go the mail-order route, you may as well buy a few bottles for friends. No, really… you can thank me later.

A finishing touch of orange bitters reinforces the drink’s citrus-spice scent, without adding any untoward sour or sweet notes. Of course, you can make this cocktail with any sparkling wine — a lovely trait during the time of year when half-finished bottles of bubbly seem to magically appear in fridges everywhere. But for that perfect flame-like glow, seek out a dryish rosé for your sparkler… and get ready to get cozy.

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

1 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz grapefruit-infused vodka, homemade or Charbay Ruby Red
3 dashes Fee’s whiskey barrel bitters (or 2 dashes Angostura and 1 dash Peychaud’s)

2 oz rosé sparkling wine
1 to 2 dashes orange bitters (preferrably Regan’s)

In a mixing glass with ice, stir together the St-Germain, grapefruit vodka, and aromatic bitters. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and top with the bubbly and the orange bitters.

Drink of the Week, drinks, holidays & occasions, recipes



Comment by Tartelette

I can’t get enough citrus this time of year so this cocktail sounds very appealing. I loked for Saint Germain as you advised me (thanks btw) but could ot locate it anywhere here..boohooo!!
Got your card the other day…your kitchen is just gorgeous! I think I would never leave that spot!!
Enjoy your Napa trip!

Posted on 12.28.07 at 1:34PM

Comment by Chez Denise et Laudalino

Great photo – so romantic! I am dying to make this drink! Where do you buy the St. Germain? We saw it at Cafe Claude but had already ordered cocktails!

Posted on 12.28.07 at 3:00PM

Comment by Anita

Tartlette: Oh, how sad. Maybe one of the better liquor stores in town could order a case for you, once you tell them how popular it is? :)

Denise: Most good liquor stores in SF have the St-Germain: I’ve seen it at PlumpJack (Noe Valley), Blackwell’s on Geary, even Beverages & More. :) The Fee Bros’ whiskey-barrel bitters are harder to find; I haven’t seen them in the Bay Area yet, but they’re fairly easy to order on Amazon (you can follow the link from the post); we bought our bottle at Surfas in L.A.

Posted on 12.28.07 at 4:26PM

Comment by Lauren

We made these for New Year’s, although we could not find the St. Germain here in Dallas on short notice, I’ll have to dig more; we subbed a tasty pear liqueur, thinking hey, pears are kind of floral tasting… The results were I’m sure very different from the original, but we enjoyed them enormously. Thanks again for your DOTW column, I’m always inspired. Our bar has grown exponentially!

Posted on 01.01.08 at 8:43AM

Comment by Lauren

Freaky! I just came here to tell you that we served these for New Year’s and I see another Lauren (from Dallas!) served them also. For a second I thought I had already posted my comment without remembering…..

Thanks for coming up with this drink and Happy New Year!

Posted on 01.02.08 at 11:09AM

Comment by Anita

Dallas Lauren: So glad to hear we’re busting your booze budget. :) We’re big-big fans of pear liqueurs here, especially Belle de Brillet. I can’t wait to try your version.

Seattle Lauren: When I see comments from Lauren, I keep thinking she’s you, too… so at least I am not alone :D

Posted on 01.02.08 at 11:13AM

Comment by jeanne bee

seriously inspired concoction!!

Posted on 01.03.08 at 7:12PM

Comment by Anita

Thanks, Jeanne — glad you liked it :)

Posted on 01.04.08 at 12:48AM

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