Some things look beautiful but taste average. Some things look nasty but taste really good. And some things look bad and taste worse.
When my friend IndianJones and I endeavored to make The Mysterious Stranger cocktail from Paul Abercrombie’s Organic, Shaken & Stirred cocktail book, we had some serious fears that the cocktail would fall in that last dreaded category. I mean, this was one nasty looking libation. However, Paul Abercrombie had yet to steer us wrong. Even the worst recipes were still pretty solid. Would the Mysterious Stranger be the first true disappointment from Organ, Shaken & Stirred? Or would this beverage be something of an ugly duckling. Results after the jump…
IndianJones mans the vintage bar in his apartment. Note how little his hands are.
Leblon CachaÃ§a, which came with a complimentary bottle of Jarrrrrrrrrritos. I think it’s some sort of South American lime soda.
With the Jarritos serving as a paperweight, we are ready to begin the process. The Mysterious Stranger, it should be noted, is the very first cocktail in the book. There must have been a lot of faith in it.
Inventory update. Shaker: check. Stirrer: check. Muddler: check. Ugly eyeglasses: check.
Filling out our needs: a lemon, a jigger, and a lime squeezer (which is really more apt for limes, not lemons, but what can you do?).
The tumblers lie in wait.
Well hello, ice.
The barkeep commences.
First order of business: attending to the rosemary.
We also welcome some tamarind paste to the party. That’s right: tamarind paste.
IndianJones fusses with the rosemary, unaware that one merely needs to pull back on the leaves to release them. I mean seriously: a knife?
Oops: forgot to rinse off the rosemary. IndianJones has a novel idea.
He shakes the herbs with water before straining the liquid out. I can’t believe how involved this has become, and we haven’t even started muddling.
A glimpse into the deep, dark recesses of the tamarind paste.
Before we get to the tamarind paste, IndianJones begins juicing lemons with his inappropriate barware.
Finally, we have sufficient rosemary and lemon juice. Muddling to ensue.
And in it goes.
Finally, it’s time to tangle with the tamarind. The recipe calls for one ounce of the paste per drink, but we’re fearful that it will be two strong. We opt for a mere 1.5 oz for the two of us.
The shiz is thick. Real thick.
It’s actually a major pain in the ass.
It’s like molasses. AND I CAN’T STOP TAKING PICTURES OF IT.
Inevitably, the stuff gets everywhere. It doesn’t help that IndianJones has carved out a reputation as being the “spiller” of the group.
The contents of the glass go into the shaker. As you can see, the infernal paste does not travel swiftly.
Meanwhile, we prep the tumblers.
IndianJones gets to shaking. Oh, and look. The tamarind paste has found its way inexplicably onto the bottom of the shaker.
Time to pour. I wouldn’t call this the most attractive drink of all time.
It’s actually downright ugly. Look how thick it is. Seriously, it looks like mud in a glass. Or worse.
Both of us were having some SERIOUS doubts about this.
Nevertheless, we press forward. IndianJones tops off each drink with some ginger beer.
Garnished and ready to go.
I’m not happy about this.
It’s good! How did that HAPPEN?
Yes, the Mysterious Stranger is GOOD. It’s not great, and the color is far from charming, but despite a wretched appearance, the drink delivered flavor-wise. Did it blow me away? Not really. If anything it was impressive only in that it didn’t taste like total ass. I probably won’t be racing to make it again, but IndianJones and I both agreed that to our great surprise, the Mysterious Stranger kept Paul Abercrombie’s record intact. Still no bad drinks from Organic, Shaken & Stirred!