Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Ruby Port Cocktail for Your Winter Doldrums

I often create recipes that are inspired by something I’ve enjoyed in a restaurant. The Spaghetti Squash With Sauteed Shiitakes and Greens from my last post is one such dish. My favorite Arugula Fennel Salad with Pistachio & Toasted Breadcrumbs was inspired by a similar salad I had at the Zuni Café in San Francisco last summer, and I made it for myself practically every day this fall, emotionally transporting myself back to Northern California with just a few tantalizing bites. The refreshing Limoncello Floats may not always be on the summer menu here at Cookshop the way they were in 2006, but at least I can recreate them for myself at any time. However, my new Ruby Port Cocktail falls into a new category, for its inspiration was a drink I’d only heard about but never actually sampled the original myself!

A few months ago, my friend Lorra told me about this marvelous Tawny Port Cocktail that she’d recently enjoyed at Picholine. It never occurred to me to serve port over ice, much less combine it with fresh lime and a splash of ginger ale, but it started to sound like an interesting idea the more Lorra talked about it. We kept making tentative plans to enjoy port cocktails and appetizers at the bar on a night when we were both in the Lincoln Center area.

Unfortunately that never quite happened as my social life had to be put on pause last month. If you’ve read this blog in the last few weeks, you know that I was knee-deep in chocolate truffles all December long whenever I wasn’t gigging. Since I was frantically chocolatizing till the last possible minute before jumping into a cab to make my 8 pm curtain night after night, I knew I would have to wait for a calmer period before I could rendezvous with Lorra at Picholine.

But I was intrigued by this flavor combination, and one night in the midst of the truffle madness when I was in serious need of liquid refreshment, I concocted my own version of the Picholine port cocktail. I had all of the ingredients on hand, and I went by instinct trying to balance the proportions. And the verdict? Marvelous indeed.

Inspired by a cocktail at Picholine in NYC

I’ve tried it with tawny port, the way the bartenders make it at Picholine, and I’ve made it with ruby port. What can I say? I like them both and think they work equally well. This drink reminds me of a fabulous red velvet cocktail dress, one that instantly chases away the winter doldrums the moment you put it on. The ruby port version seems a little sassier to me, like a sleeveless cocktail dress in an eye-popping color with a shorter hemline than its tawnier counterpart. But I think you should try them both and decide for yourself.

For each drink:
3 ounces ruby port
½ a lime
A splash of ginger ale
Cracked ice
Additional lime wedge, for garnish

For each drink, fill a rocks glass or a smallish wine glass with the cracked ice. Add the port, then squeeze the juice from the half a lime into the glass. Add a generous splash of ginger ale and stir, using the handle of a long spoon to mix it up. Garnish with a fresh lime wedge, and get ready to chase the winter blahs away.

No comments: