(a variation on a Chef Cardoz original!)
Prep Time: 10 minutes (if you’re a few drinks in)
Calories: 200 kcal
0.9 Tablespoons L’Oleologie Rioja Wine Vinegar (or White Balsamic Vinegar)
1 Tablespoon Simple syrup (1 part water, 2 parts sugar)
3.5 Tablespoons Gin
8 Cilantro leaves
2 Cucumber slices (about ½ an inch in thickness)
2 Chile slices (medium heat, about ¼ inch thick)
4 oz Ice (cubes are fine)
If you have an edible, organic yellow flower like a pansy, don’t be afraid to let it float on the top of this drink!
The contrast of yellow and red, with hints of green cilantro leaves will really stand out. However if your flower has been treated with any chemicals at all (pesticides, etc) don’t do it. Instead you can use a bit of lemon peel, or use a crème brûlée torch to dry out a lemon slice for added effect. Or just cut a few more, thinner slices of cucumber and place on the rim of the glass or on top of the drink.
1 = The first step is to “muddle” some of the ingredients. Be careful on this, some versions of this recipe suggest just placing the savory ingredients in a shaker and shaking. The cucumber, cilantro and chile need to be physically crushed to help release their essential oils a.k.a. muddled (which provides the flavors you want). There are wooden muddlers you can use, or in a worst case a mortar and pestle if you have one (though it’s better to muddle in the shaker to trap all the flavors there).
2 = Add the white balsamic vinegar, gin and simple syrup to the shaker’s contents. Shake with gusto (a lot).
3 = Pour shaker’s contents through a strainer into a glass with ice on the rocks (about 1/3 to half full of ice).
What’s different about this recipe?
= This was Chef Floyd Cardoz’s signature cocktail at his North End Grill restaurant and it’s delicious! He was a great chef and really nice guy, and the NYC restaurant scene is much poorer for his passing. I’ve changed the recipe from a Cooler to a Shrub by replacing the lime juice with vinegar. The origin of the word Kachumber is from Indian cuisine as a term for salad dishes with citrus and chili. This recipe keeps the acidity of the citrus and the heat of the chili, but has a more southern European flavor profile while also creating more visual contrast with the red and green colors.
= Lime pH (measure of acidity) is 2.8 while vinegar is about 2.5 (so slightly more acidic, pH works in a counterintuitive manner). The result is a slightly stronger contrast between sweet and sour. You can add a bit less or more vinegar to get the cocktail to your exact liking.
= Using Rioja vinegar shifts the color scheme from a green to more of a red which provides a nice contrast with the green cucumber slices and bits of cilantro. If you want more of a more Valentine’s day, amber colored hue, go with the White Balsamic vinegar instead.
= Vinegar has a LOT of health benefits, which you can easily read about online (a lot of people can’t shut up about this).
= Sugar Warning – To make a simple syrup just put some water and sugar together in a pan and heat until the sugar becomes a liquid. However be CAREFUL! Sugar is much more dangerous in a kitchen then most people realize. You just want to heat it until the mix becomes a liquid and then turn the heat off. If you keep heating sugar, after a certain point even if you take it off heat it will continue to get hotter until it finishes its chemical reaction. Sugar can easily get as hot or hotter than your oven. But unlike your oven, molten sugar will stick to your skin and keep “cooking” you (I’ve seen this first hand while at the Paris Cordon Bleu). Always use gloves and a long sleeve sheet when heating sugar. If hot sugar gets on you, immediately place the exposed area under cold water and go to a hospital if necessary.