Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bergamot and Gin

It's a dilemma. On the one hand, I don't want you to think that all I do is sit around and drink. Because really I don't. But on the other hand, I've been swamped this week, and telling you about my drink might be all I get around to.

A martini is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you're looking for a headache remedy. The fact is, I'd had a headache for two days, and it didn't look as if it was going to improve no matter what good living I undertook. So I figured, if I can't beat it, join it.

I have a couple of bottles of vin de bergamots in my fridge. You know how you end up with odds and ends of Christmas gift liquors? This is one I'm very happy to have. It's basically a fortified aperitif wine made from white wine, vodka, and bergamots. My sister gave me two bottles this past Christmas. I think she made it after a recipe for Vin de Pamplemousse that's in Chez Panisse Fruit.

Last week, while I was visiting her in California on a sunny evening, I enjoyed some with soda water and a twist. She mentioned that it would probably make a nice martini. Dutiful younger sister that I am, I went ahead and tried it nearly as soon as I could. It helped that I was back in Portland and the sun was gone. Grey days seem more like martini weather, don't you think?

It's pretty basic. Three parts Junipero gin (I'm hoarding a bottle I got as a birthday gift from my parents--Oregon liquor supply laws verge on draconian) and 1 part vin de bergamots. (I wonder if Michael Ruhlman's new book, Ratio goes into martini ratios?) Shaken and poured up over a meyer lemon twist. Delicious--slightly bitter, a little herbal, and very satisfying.

Sometimes when you do the twist (twist the twist? cut the twist? I like do the twist--a good dance move for preparing to shake a martini) it's amazing how long a piece you can get. This was one of those times--I finally stopped after 3 circuits around the lemon. It curled up nicely in my glass.

And my headache? It was gone when I woke up the next morning. I'm not suggesting the martini cured it, but it certainly didn't hurt!

Oh--and if you're thinking ahead for next Christmas, here's the Vin de Pamplemousse recipe.

Vin de Pamplemousse
adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit
makes 5 liters

2 white grapefruit
4 Ruby Red grapefruit
3 Meyer lemons, or 2 sweet oranges
1 piece vanilla bean, 2-inch, split lengthwise
4-1/2 liters crisp white wine
3/4 liters 80-proof vodka
1-3/4 c. sugar

  • Wash all fruit and slice into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive container and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  • Cover and store in a cool, dark place or the refrigerator. Stir it and taste it weekly. You might want to add more sugar it it is too bitter for your taste, or add more fruit and wine if it's too sweet.
  • After 1 month, strain and discard the solids.
  • Let the aperitif sit covered and undisturbed for a couple of days to allow the cloudy bits to settle.
  • Carefully strain through several layers of cheesecloth, but stop when you get to the cloudy parts.
  • Repeat the straining as needed--until it's as clear as you require. (I don't know how big a perfectionist you are!)
  • Bottle in clean wine bottles and cork tightly. It will keep several months at cellar temperature, longer if refrigerated.
If she's reading this, maybe my sister will mention what fruits she used?

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Thérèse said...

You bet. I used the Chez Panisse proportions more or less, but substituted bergamots for the lemons or oranges. Also, I used a dry but flowery Viognier instead of "crisp" white wine.


Giovanna said...

Yum is right! I'm about to make one for tonight, because today was *that* kind of day.

Phoo-D said...

Hmmm..."stir and taste weekly". I don't know if I would have any left after doing this! It sounds delightful.

Giovanna said...

Phoo-D, you've got a point there. I could easily imagine the wine disappearing long before the holidays! What's the answer? Make a huge recipe? That could get sloppy, both in volume and in the behavior of the cook!

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