Thursday, August 21, 2014
Cocktail: Tipsy Gazpacho
Gazpacho, the cold Spanish soup, is so good this time of year when you can make it with flavorful, seasonal tomatoes. Because of its texture, it's sometimes served in a mug for sipping. This recently got me thinking, if it's a soup fit for drinking, why not make a drink inspired by the soup?
Searching the web, I found that others have had the same idea too, although my version is different than most. Many of the recipes I've seen go something like this: make gazpacho, add vodka. As tasty as that may be, I wanted something that is, at its root, a cocktail. Thus, this drink is inspired by soup and not a soup itself. It's base is gin, modified with sherry, a spicy shrub and a concentrated tomato syrup. When mixed together, it evokes gazpacho rather well for not actually being gazpacho.
I roasted the tomatoes to concentrate and deepen their flavor, making them a more noticeable component of the drink. For the gin, I wanted a floral, herbaceous gin, so I used Aviation American dry gin; I think Green Hat, produced locally here in D.C., would be good too.
I liked this recipe so much that I submitted it to the Washington Post Food section's Top Tomato recipe contest this year, and was thrilled when it was selected as a finalist recipe for yesterday's tomato issue.
Cocktail: Tipsy Gazpacho
2 lb. ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
8-10 basil leaves, plus 1 more as a garnish
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 inches of cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 oz. American dry gin, such as Aviation or Green Hat
1/2 oz. Amontillado sherry
2 dashes habanero shrub (Bittermens Hellfire habanero shrub)
1. Roast the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the tomatoes and olive in a 9 X 13 baking dish, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat the tomatoes. Roast in the oven for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes until the tomatoes are wilted, browned in a few places and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then transfer tomatoes to a food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times to make a chunky sauce.
2. Make the tomato syrup: combine the roasted tomato sauce with the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside to "steep" for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture with a fine-mesh sieve; discard the solids (or keep them--they're really good on toast like a tomato jam). Transfer the strained syrup to a container to store in the refrigerator. This recipe makes about 1 cup of roasted tomato syrup.
3. Mix the drink: add the 8 to 10 basil leaves and lime juice to a cocktail shaker and muddle the leaves gently. Add the cucumber and muddle to release its juice. Add the gin, sherry, habanero shrub and 1 oz. of the roasted tomato syrup. Fill the shaker with ice and shake until cold. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a basil leaf.