So I don’t remember if we mentioned that it is hot here yet. In case we forgot to complain, it’s SO HOT WAAAAAAAAAAAA. The only upside of unreasonably high temperatures is that cold cocktails taste even better. Enter John’s Fancy Booze! This week, he made us The Avenue, a throwback cocktail that is simple and clean but full of flavor (and booze).
John is a pro and makes everything from scratch, which makes The Avenue stand out. That being said, some of the steps are pretty labor intensive. You can use store-bought simple syrup, grenadine, and passion fruit juice, but it won’t taste as fresh and amazing. We are very lucky to have John around to keep us classy. That being said, I am tempted to take about four of these out of their pretty little glasses and throw them in a Super Gulp cup with some ice and have a nice little afternoon.
I pulled this recipe from Ted Haigh’s “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.” The recipe was originally published in 1937 in the “Cafe Royal Cocktail Book”, which was written/utilized by the United Kingdom Bartenders’ Guild (UKBG). The UKBG was an important source of innovation in mixology during prohibition, when the art form was significantly hindered in the US. That also explains why this calls for calvados (French apple brandy) instead of American apple jack.
1oz Makers Mark Straight Bourbon
1oz Pére Magliore Fine Calvados (this will add a bite; for a smoother finish you can try VSOP, but it will cost you)
1oz Passion Fruit Juice*
3/4 teaspoon grenadine**
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water (careful with this, it is highly concentrated can very quickly over power the other ingredients)
Combine the ingredients, add ice, and shake until cold. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled, stemmed cocktail glass.
This is one drink where sticking to the proportions is critical, because each of the ingredients has a very distinct flavor. Measured correctly they complement each other nicely, but if its unbalanced you end up with a hot mess. Further to that point, when I started experimenting with this I was using Buffalo Trace Bourbon (because Cait+Tiff’s readers deserve the best), but it just didn’t taste right. I ultimately switched to the Maker’s Mark, which has a heavier flavor and stood up better to the calvados, in particular.
- Carefully cut a passion fruit in half and scoop the innards (seed, pulp, juice and all) into a blender. 2 passion fruits will yield about 1/3 cup.
- For one part passion fruit juice, add 3 parts water to the blender. If you have 1/3 cup passion fruit, add 1 cup of water.
- Blend for up to one minute to mix the water and juice and to separate the seeds. You don’t want to break the seeds, so if you notice bits of seed start to appear then stop blending.
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a container. You can also add 2-4 layers of cheese cloth to the straining process. This will help make the cocktail more clear/translucent, but whenever you strain you also diminish the flavor of the juice.
- Add 2-3 times more water (in this scenario, that would be 2-3 cups). As with the straining, the more water you add the more the flavor of the juice will be reduced but the cocktail will be clearer and have a lighter density/mouthfeel. I tend to lean more towards the latter, especially since PFJ can be pretty potent and can over power the other ingredients if not properly accounted for.
- Add sugar to taste. For the volume we used (1/3 cup passion fruit juice and 3 cups water), start with 1 tablespoon and then go from there.
- Note: This is homemade juice, so it will settle and separate quickly. Make sure to shake before use.
I borrowed the recipe (pom juice to simple syrup ratio) from Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology; the juicing and simple syrup methods came from various sources.
- Juice two pomegranates (yields about 7 oz):
- Cut off the nub on top and a small sliver at the base. Then make shallow cuts (through the skin) along the ridges, roughly corresponding to quarters. Peel off the skin to reveal the seeds.
- Over a large bowl, break the pomegranate up and, as best as possible, separate the seeds from the surrounding white membrane, and discard the membrane. If need be, once you’re finished breaking the pomegranate up you can fill the bowl with water; the seeds will sink and the membrane will float to the top where you can fish it out and discard.
- Dump the pomegranate seeds into a blender and blend for a minute or so, until liquified and pulpy.
- Strain the blended seeds into a bowl using a large, fine mesh sieve (same one you used for the PFJ; no cheese cloth necessary). Push around the pulp with a spoon to release as much juice as possible.
- Make simple syrup
- Unlike last time, when we were infusing the simple syrup with ginger and lime zest, there is no need to heat the simple syrup this time. Sugar is really soluble, so all you have to do is mix it with water and eventually it will dissolve on its own. You’ll also end up with a richer syrup since you aren’t breaking the sugar down with heat.
- In a plastic water bottle mix 1 part sugar to 1 part water. If you want a richer, thicker syrup, add more sugar. Keep in mind you will be adding the pom juice to this, so if you want a thicker syrup increase the sugar.
- You can speed up the mixing time by shaking, but you should just let the mixture sit for a bit so the sugar fully dissolves.
- Make the grenadine
- Mix 1 part simple syrup to 3 parts pom juice. If you stop here, this will only keep for 1-3 weeks (definitely refrigerate it to extend shelf life), so don’t make toooooo much.
- You can extend the shelf life further (a month or more) by adding some vodka. If you do this, start with 1 part simple syrup, 3 parts pom juice, and 1/2 part vodka and then taste. You don’t want the vodka changing the flavor too much.
Thank you, John, for making another delicious cocktail!
Photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.