Obviously, I drink a lot of cocktails. And as such, I keep my liver to the ground, seeking out new cocktails, new mixes, and new flavors. Last week I was at the Square One Organic Vodka-sponsored SmartsCo-Charles Communications holiday party, and I sucked on a cocktail that I could only describe as a shiny glass of California Christmas.
Made with bright, fresh Fuyu persimmon juice, the cocktail was a glowing orange with dark little specks floating on the top (I'll come back to those fabulous specks). Taking a sip, my mouth and nose were not only suffused by juicy, slippery persimmony goodness, but also with spices. Cinnamon?! Nutmeg?! Ginger?! I marched right up to the mixologist and begged to know what was in there. He smiled as I tumbled out with, "I think, nutmeg?" He confirmed nutmeg, ginger, a caramelized sugar syrup, and those fabulous specks? Vanilla bean! Of course! I would have dramatically slapped my forehead if I wasn't already reaching for another glass of the stuff.
I've made a snap decision: when it comes to cocktails, persimmons are the new pomegranates. Not having good access to them in Boston, I only started eating persimmons when I moved out to California -- the land of good and plenty -- but while I have eaten persimmons in salads, desserts, and savory preparations, I had yet to drink persimmons. Consider me transformed and transfixed.
I got in touch with Allison Evanow -- CEO and Founder of Square One Vodka -- who bartended while getting her MBA and is the mastermind behind this most sumptuous, most celebratory cocktail. She told me she dubbed it the "Golden Gate" because of its remarkable color. (When this cocktail sweeps the nation, as it surely must, it will be called the "Square 'simmon.") Allison also explained that she usually takes a "food approach" to making cocktails and this one does require more kitchen fury than simply shaking or stirring and straining. For one thing, the sugar syrup is no simple affair, it's actually a caramelized sugar syrup burnished to a lusty golden hue. Also, the persimmons have to be juiced and strained before being plied with the clean and organic vodka. Always thinking like a cook, Allison dropped this little tip, "the leftover pulp that doesn't make it into the base juice would be incredible as a 'jam' on some local artisanal bread for breakfast toast!"
Allison confirmed that the other ingredients were crystallized ginger, vanilla bean, and nutmeg. Regarding the vanilla bean, Allison confessed, "[I] love the vanilla bean flecks in it, so I chose not to garnish it as I don't think it needs it with all the other bean flecks floating in there!" Check out the recipe.
Bay Area bartenders, listen to me: you need this cocktail.