With strawberry season on the wane, the beloved SPF 2020 cocktail has been retired (at least for now) – in its place comes a cocktail that is very much of this autumn season, La Catrina. Named after Mexico’s iconic grand dame of death (see this recent blog entry for more info), La Catrina features peak of season pomegranates and “botanical rum” crafted in our kitchen by Matthew Campbell.
The pomegranates are juiced, then cut with amaranth syrup (earthy micro amaranth greens steeped in hot water, then cold emulsified 1:1 with sugar) and crème de violette. The result is a fruit component that is equal parts bright (tart), earthy and floral.
The “botanical rum” is Matusalem rum infused with local redwood branches (yes, local redwood branches), coriander, bay leaf, black pepper, cumin, ancho chile & prunes to create a gin of sorts. Matthew sheds some light on the inspiration behind this unusual brew:
Walking to work these past weeks, watching the shadows get longer and feeling the first chill, I was reminded of fall childhood walks to school through Piedmont Park, smelling the damp forest floor. Foraging in Wildcat Canyon last week, the scent of young redwood branches finally locked with the morning walks I was remembering. Amaranth provides the earthy-grassy counterpoint to the redwood’s more pronounced piney-ness. With the tart finish from the pomegranate juice it’s my closest approximation to tromping around the East Bay hills in autumn, eating miner’s lettuce and building forts – activities that occupied most of my afternoons as a boy.
The botanical rum and the pomegranate juice blend are mixed, shaken hard on pellet ice, then double-strained into a chilled rocks glass primed with one finger of soda and Kold Draft cubes – topped with a dash of orange bitters.
As John Steinbeck said, “The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”
JP (with input from MC)