Probably my favorite cocktail at Tales, this Jackson Cannon created flip features a salted rooibos syrup, a fantastic three spice garnish, based off of King’s Ginger.
This drink was offered in two places: one as the closing pairing with the traditional bread and butter pudding from the spirited dinner at Feast, and secondly as Jackson’s offering at the Boston Cocktail Experience, the tasting room for Anchor Distilling. And in both cases it was exquisite, but the former version, as a replacement for coffee with dessert, was bloody fantastic. The drink uses the rich body created by the egg to give it a bit of a strong mouthfeel, which works really well in juxtaposition to cut back on any sweetness, and plays off of the flavors of ginger and rooibos really well.
For the rooibos syrup, it is actually a simple syrup that is salted and infused with rooibos. Following the recommended steeping time for the individual rooibos, which usually is within the five minute range, Jackson steeps the tea in near boiling hot water, and uses twice the amount of tea per water ratio in order to get that strong earthy flavor. He then strains it, measuring it, and combines equal proportions of water and sugar, prior to it cooling to make the syrup. At the end, he adds in salt to taste, but as a general guidelines, for each quart of tea, he uses slightly less than a tablespoon of salt. The addition of the salt is fantastic, since it is a play on sweet and salty things, such as candied bacon: bacon with the salt and savory component pairs really well with brown sugar; in the case of this syrup, rooibos with its’ savory and earthy components draws a lot from that salt.
The use of tea in cocktails seems to have been a prevalent thing at Tales this year, both with Cynthia Gold, a tea sommelier, showing up to showcase her book book signing panels, but also with the large amount of punches featuring tea, which draws upon the historical past of the punch, as well as he whiskey and tea libation tasting room sponsored by Diageo, featuring cocktails created by Robert Sickler, a “master of whisky.” While people such as Cynthia are concerned with pure tea in cocktails, and not necessarily tisanes or rooibos, the inclusion of these ingredients seems to be a common trend and movement in cocktails, especially as they strive to create new found complex flavors through the use of more complex syrups (as evidenced by the salted rooibos syrup), or uncommon herbs, mixers, bitters, et cetera.
King’s Ginger is relatively new on the American Market, but not a new product by any stretch of the imagination. Created originally in 1903 for Edward VII, the drink was formulated by the Berry Bros with a rich, yet spicy flavor. It was supposedly created to stimulate the King on his walks. The liqueur could probably serve that purpose, especially because of the wonderful spiciness on the tongue, but the question is still in the air over whether or not that is marketing (good marketing at that), or truth; I’d put my money on something in between. Supposedly it was his physician who commissioned the apothecaries to produce an elixir to vivify the life of the monarch. In comparison to the other ginger liqueur on the market, Canton, the flavor is less vivid and floral, having a bit more depth with honey and earthy notes and in addition a character of lemon: the liqueur is made through macerating lemon zest and ginger.
To finish it off, it has a spice mixture that is sprinkled across the top, to add to the warming sensation and provide a bit more desert notes. The mixture is an equal proportion of coffee, nutmeg and cinnamon. The nutmeg and cinnamon are common and make sense on such a drink, but it is the coffee that sets it over the top. The coffee addition was suggested by Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli to Jackson.
1 ounce salted rooibos syrup
2 ounces King’s Ginger
1 dash of angostura bitters
Dry shake the mixture, then combine with ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled highball glass, and top up with two ounces of seltzer. Garnish with a shaved spice mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and coffee.