MixMo: Pairings & Kübler Absinthe

It seems that another month has passed us by, and that yet another Mixology Monday has reared its ugly head. Now it’s not that I don’t enjoy this monthly event, it’s just that, like migrating Red Crabs, MixMo’s arrival is dictated by the stars, with no thought whatsoever to the mere mortals whose lives it disrupts.

This Mixology Monday was more difficult than usual for me due to two reasons: I’m right in the middle of year end and a total revamp of Vessel’s menu (has it really been a year already?) and this month’s MixMo is forcing me to think of food as well as the usual cocktail. MixMo this month is being dubbed “Pairings” and its theme has been brought to you by Natalie, over at The Liquid Muse. (Damn you Natalie for making me actually mull over a cocktail this month, I just wanted to phone it in!)

When I’m sitting down for the evening repast, it’s very rare that I will pair a cocktail with my meal. Now don’t get me wrong, as a bartender I’ve paired cocktails with food for well over a decade now, but for my own personal taste, I’ve always enjoyed simpler fair with my meal. The way it has always gone for me is as such: a cocktail when I first sit down, wine or beer with my meal (depending on the food), a straight spirit with dessert, which is usually followed by another cocktail or whiskey to cap off the night. Favorite food/drink pairings in the past have been: Gosset Champagne with Truffled Macaroni & Cheese, Saison Dupont Farmhouse Ale with pizza, Ramazzotti Amaro with Chocolate Lava Cake, and Lustau’s Dry Amontillado with Peking Duck Soup.

But this is about cocktails, so first let’s pick a cocktail and try to figure out what to serve with it. (The bartender in me says this is the way it should be; the chef in me screams that I’m an idiot, and that I should be pairing drink with food and not vice versa.)

Before I get to the cocktail, as I’ve recently acquired a bottle of the newest absinthe legally available to the American market, I thought that I could kill two birds with one stone, and do a review of a new spirit along with this month’s MixMo cocktail. I know that Paul has already beaten me to the punch with a review of Kübler, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in as well. This cyber-planet is big enough for the both of us I figure.

Coming from Val-de-Travers, Kübler, America’s newest absinthe, is Swiss-made. A blanche, this beast doesn’t have the tell-tale green that the neophyte normally associates with absinthe. As a blanche, one will find Kübler to be mellower than the verte, and as such, mellower than Lucid, America’s other legal absinthe. At 53% alcohol, there is less alcoholic punch than Lucid as well, and I personally feel that one really doesn’t need to add much water to Kübler, as there isn’t a lot of heat, and you just want to add enough water to get a small louche, and coax out other flavors.

After tasting Kübler, I’m afraid to report that I was rather disappointed. Not as complex as Lucid, I picked up a musty anise nose, with a palate of black licorice candy cigar, and that’s about it. While it is rather mono-dimensional, I still think that it is more complex than most pastis out on the market (and notably drier). I also can’t help but wonder why the first two legal examples of absinthe in the U.S. market are grain alcohol based, as opposed to grape alcohol based, which in my humble opinion makes for a much superior product.

Anywho, enough babbling about Kübler. Let’s start making cocktails, but first, what dish will I be pairing?

Well, the food that I’ve chosen, (drum roll please) will be sautéed prawns. The cocktail to be paired with the sautéed prawns will be the:

DUCHESS
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cinzano Rosso)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 oz Absinthe (Kübler)

stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

The reasoning for this pairing is quite simple; if you’ve ever cooked prawns in Pernod and a little bit of lemon butter, than you’ll understand why this cocktail works. And if you haven’t tried Prawns Pernod before, then get off of your keister and start cooking!

The Duchess can be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book, if you’re curious, which dates it to at least 1930.

Santé to all, and happy Mixology Monday! Please tune in to Paul’s blog to find out when and what the next MixMo will be.

 

Duchess

Pictures by:
Jamie Boudreau
www.vesselseattle.com

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~ by Jamie Boudreau on October 15, 2007.

8 Responses to “MixMo: Pairings & Kübler Absinthe”

  1. Jaime,

    Do you think a stronger absinthe such as Lucid would work in this cocktail? What about a pastis such as Herbsaite or Pernod? Just wondering if the lighter tone of the Kubler is better than a heavier pastis . . . Thanks!

  2. Prawns Pernod sounds fantastic.

    I tried using Lucid in a cocktail asking for pernod or herbsaint and it created, well, a bit too much complexity. I’ve never felt the flavor wavering back and forth so much. I wonder if the Kubler might be a bit calmer, while still “keeping it (absinthe) real”.

  3. Well, Lucid uses Beet Neutral Spirits, which are technically not grain neutral spirits. As for why, the reason to use beet or grain neutral spirits is probably mostly price point. However, if we’re lucky, and the Hangar One Absinthe makes it to the market in the US, I’ve heard it is based on an unaged grape eau-de-vie. And, of course, if we’re really lucky, we’ll see Okanagan Spirits Taboo Absinthe on the market here in the US.

    In general, Blanche Absinthes tend to be a bit less complex than the Verte Absinthes.

  4. Marshall:
    I would hazard a guess that Lucid would work even better than Kubler in this cocktail. If I were to use a pastis, I might up the dry vermouth ratio a bit.

  5. MOST OF THE BLANCHE VARIATRIES ARE SOFTER THAN THE VERTS THAT I HAVE TRIED. I HAVE HAD KUBLER FOR A FEW YEARS NOW. THAT MUSTY NOTE IN THE BACKGROUND IS THE FLAVOR OF WORMWOOD. I THINK IT IS
    A GREAT ABSINTHE FOR CERTAIN COCKTAILS BECCUASE OF ITS LOWER PROOF AND IT IS WHITE SO YOU CAN USE IT WITH OUT TURNING A COCKTAIL BROWN WHEN MIXING WITH OTHER COLORS. A PASTIS WOULD TRUN THE WHOLE DRINK TO SWEET I WOULD THINK.

    WOULDN’T ALL OF THE ABSITNHS HAVE BEEN MADE WITH NUTRAL SPRIRITS DURING THE BELLE EPOQUE LATE 1800’S BECAUSE OF THE DISEASES OF THE GRAPE VINES, AND THE WINE AND COGNAC INDUSTRY WAS OUT TO GET THE ABSINTHE MAKERS?

  6. Kev:
    I realize that the blanche will be more subdued than the verte, however most people don’t, and a lot of reader’s experience with absinthe will be with the only two that are available in the US market right now, hence the comparison with each other.
    While I’m sure that, for a time, a lot of absinthes were made with neutral spirits, it is in my experience that the ones derived from grapes, while being more costly to produce, are the tastiest. This is just a personal preference.
    For all things absinthe, I always defer to Gwydion at the Wormwood Society.

  7. I see where you are comming from. I hadn’t thought about it in that way. the base of any product brings important nuances to the finished product.

    Gwydion is qutie the expert in the world of absinthe.

  8. Thanks for clearing up the historical reason for the use of non-grape spirits. I came on here to answer that question (Phylloxera louse infestation) re: why grain spirits were necessary for the original absinthes…but found that someone already had..good show

    NGP

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