While once an effective means of storage for fruits and vegetables, infusions are also a means for creatively including flavors not often seen in cocktails, including savory ones. Vodka is a common vehicle for infusions, but also has the potential of falling flat when mixed, even with the added flavor.
When Fabrizio Pirolo, owner at the Saint Austere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, wanted to create a drink that reflected the flavors of the winter months, he discovered a combination of gin, beet, ginger and spiced apple. Add two peeled medium-to-large beets to one liter of gin in a sealable container and place in a cool, dark place for 2 to 3 days. Strain off infusion, which is now ready to serve and should be kept refrigerated.
Complimenting this infusion is a spiced apple shrub (a vinegar-based fruit syrup). To make Saint Austere's, place five thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, three medium-sized pieces of ginger, a tablespoon of black peppercorns and two cups of sugar in a sealable container and marinate in the refrigerator for four days, allowing the sugar to break down the fruit. On day five, add a cup of champagne vinegar, re-seal and place back in the fridge for another five days, before straining and storing for future use.
When combined with the brightness from lime juice and round flavors of calvados (apple brandy), it's shocking how the often domineering profile of beets is perfectly balanced in this drink. Though it's not something you can make in 5 minutes, it's well-worth the effort. Naturally, when in Brooklyn, Fabrizio will be happy to make one of these house favorites for you, as well.
- 1 1/2 ounces beet-infused Beefeater gin
- 1 ounce spiced apple shrub
- 1/2 ounce Calvados
- 1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
- Combine ingredients, shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with a slice of lime.
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