To execute most recipes in a classic cocktail manual, you need a mixing tin, citrus and booze. Today, recipes are more complicated: Rife with foraged produce and bitters that take months to craft, they’re not exactly user-friendly. Enter Wine & Spirits’ House Mix: a collection of recipes and tips for the easy-to-replicate drinks that professional bartenders make at home.
Frankie Thaheld is the director of mixology at the San Diego-based Snake Oil Cocktail Company, a consulting firm whose clients range from the Sundance Film Festival to the Hard Rock Café in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.
Thaheld recommends serving this as an aperitif to convert gin skeptics: “Gin is not everybody’s liquor, but this makes it everyone’s liquor. Their first experience is with a bad gin that tasted like mouthwash; now there are so many gins that are so fragrant and floral and have real depth.”
Frankie Thaheld’s Celery Gimlet
2 ounces of Junipero Gin
1½ ounces of celery purée (see recipe below)
¾ ounce of fresh-squeezed lime juice
¾ ounce of 50/50 simple syrup
pinch of cumin
4 sticks of fresh celery cut into half-inch pieces
¾ cup of water
Combine ingredients with ice in a mixing tin and shake hard for eight to 10 seconds. Pour through a strainer into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with celery leaves.
For the purée: Combine celery and water in blender and pulse for 10-15 seconds, then purée on high for another 15 seconds. “You want a thick baby food consistency because you want the quality of the pulp to shine in the drink, to get the bitterness of the skin—the full flavor of the vegetable, as if you are biting into it,” Thaheld advises.
Fresh but not so fast
"Use fresh juice…but it doesn’t have to be too fresh. In fact, lime juice is almost better a few hours later. Several studies have been done on the pH of lime juice, and they show that a little oxygen helps, because lime juice is too acidic at first. The oxygen mellows it out."
When refined is right
"Use refined sugar. Turbinado and other raw sugars have too much molasses flavor for this cocktail. If I were making it with rum, that would be a different story."
A match made in the Mediterranean
"Cumin and celery are complimentary components—they’re made for each other. Celery seeds and cumin are often paired in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food because they work so well together. Just be sure to use a light pinch of cumin—not even a half teaspoon, because it’s easy to overwhelm the drink."
Junipero at the juice bar
"Junipero, with its bitter botanicals, works with vegetal juices very well. I’ve used it with beets and carrots with success."
"You’d don’t drink great chardonnay straight out of the fridge, because you won’t taste it. Uber-chilling may be fine in a vodka martini, where you don’t want to taste anything, but not here. If something’s too cold, your palate is going to be frozen in shock and you’ll miss some of the flavors."
This recipe is a W&S web exclusive.