The Cocktail Gadabout #82

Terroir (a la Scott)

A lot of horrible stuff is affecting London these days but if you do go, please take the time to visit Bar Termini. Currently ranked as one of the world’s best bars, it’s set up to resemble a tiny lunch counter in an Italian train station; replete with vintage suitcases and an all Italian staff. Anyway, the drinks are out of this world, and I was fortunate enough to sample something called Terroir. They had infused flint, clay and lichen into neutral vodka using a sous-vide technique, which means cooking the ingredients in a sealed bag at 145 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. Something subtly sweet was added and the resulting cocktail literally tasted like the earth.

The idea, of course, is to achieve the same terroir wine making affects of microclimate, location and soil in a spirit. Vodka is the only spirit flavourless enough to allow the very subtle flavours of rock and lichen to have an impact. I tried the sous-vide approach on the stove and, after exploding bags of lichen and vodka all over my kitchen (twice), I simply infused the three items in the vodka in a Mason jar for two weeks. Apparently one requires a sous-vide cooker in order to maintain the lower temperature. Wish I had known that ahead of time. Also, you cannot simply heat vodka and the ingredients in an open pot as the alcohol will evaporate in the process. The vacuum-sealed bag is key.

All that said, my attempt at Terroir using infusion rather than sous-vide cookery ended spectacularly, if I do say so myself. The cocktail was outstanding and did taste ever so slightly like the earth. I had to buy flint online on Amazon and used a broken chunk of fired clay I found at my cottage. Though I do have access to living lichen, I decided to go the safe route and purchase the dry product at Herbie’s Herbs on Queen. I have no idea what lichens are safe to consume and if they’re anything like mushrooms, some are likely quite dangerous. I achieved the sweetness with the rather innocuous elderflower liqueur, and added a bit of dry vermouth for depth. Anyway, I’ll let you be the judge. I was mightily impressed.

Terroir (a la Scott)

Ingredients:

2 oz Earth-Infused Vodka
½ oz Dry Vermouth
¼ oz Elderflower Liqueur

Directions:

  1. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled Nick & Nora.

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