Friday, November 21, 2014
Capture the Flag, Dee’s favorite cocktail. Before I could make it at home, I first had to capture the formula.
In our house, I’m the cocktail maven, the mixologist manqué with twenty-five different bizarre elixirs taking up shelf space in the kitchen. If you want something with Aztec chocolate bitters or a gin crafted with botanicals from northern Québec, Elisson is your man.
Dee is decidedly different. Unlike many ladies who prefer frou-frou drinks involving cranberry juice or little umbrellas, she goes for more assertive beverages like the gingery Moscow Mule, and more often than not will drink brown goods with a style that would do any gentleman proud. Single malt Scotch neat? Yes, please!
There’s a notable exception, though, and that is a cocktail that appeared at one of our nicer local watering holes. (They serve food there, too, so one could equally call it one of our nicer local food-troughs... but that somehow lacks finesse.) It’s called Capture the Flag, and nutty nomenclature aside, it’s a complex, bittersweet concoction that captured Dee’s heart.
What’s in it? You may well ask. According to the menu, it contains Maestro Dobel tequila, Amaro Ramazzotti, lemon juice, mole bitters, and spiced port-pineapple syrup. In other words, it’s pretty fucking complicated. But - and this is an important but - it is pretty fucking tasty.
When we recently dined at this establishment, we were bitterly disappointed to discover that the Capture the Flag cocktail was no longer being offered. It seems that the spiced port-pineapple syrup was the culprit: Their existing supply had gotten old and had to be eighty-sixed, and they had not yet gotten around to the (considerable) task of making up a new batch.
I explained to the bar staff that their special cocktail was much beloved by both of us, Dee in particular, and - given that they themselves would not be offering it again in the near future - would they consider sharing the recipe with me? Somewhat to my surprise, not only were they happy to divulge the basic instructions for building the drink, they also gave me the details on how to cook up the Sooper-Seekrit Ingredient that makes the whole thing work, namely the spiced port-pineapple syrup.
It’s a multi-step process. You first reduce a bottle or two of port by about 50%, simmering it with brown sugar and an assortment of warm spices. Then you sear pineapple chunks in the spiced port, caramelizing them and infusing them with that spicy, porty deliciousness. Finally, you simmer the seared pineapple chunks in simple syrup. That’s a lot of work for just one of the cocktail’s ingredients.
Spiced port-pineapple syrup simmering in a pan on Darth Stover.
The drink itself - garnished with a spiced port pineapple chunk and a lemon twist - is magically delicious. Perhaps a tad sweeter than most cocktails on my Favorites List, but that matters not. I could drink these bad boys all night long.
Oh, you want the recipe? Sorry, no can do. But I will be happy to make you one. Just get in line behind Dee.