March 4, 2009

Happy Hour: L’Amant (The Lover)

by Payman Bahmani

Another Wednesday is upon us, which means another opportunity for midweek tippling!

The subject of today’s Happy Hour is one that’s been rolling–or rather mixing–around in my mind for a couple weeks now, as I’ve been working on something to contribute to the upcoming Mixology Monday session, or MxMo, as it’s called, where each month the online cocktail community of readers and writers gather to share their collective cocktail creativity inspired by a particular theme. This month’s theme is “The First Time,” hosted by the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails. Since I’m a relative newcomer to the blogtail world, it is particularly fitting that this is also my first time contributing to MxMo. It’s pretty deep, I know, like two mirrors facing each other.

The idea behind this month’s theme is to mix a cocktail that serves as a welcome mat of sorts for people who have never tried a cocktail–the newbies, if you will. For me, and I suspect for many others as well–the introduction to mixed drinks wasn’t one particularly worth reliving, at least not from the perspective of tastiness, though it certainly accomplished other goals I had set for the evening. My experience usually involved a nightclub with a half-rate bartender mixing some bang-for-the-buck combination involving the four-bottle pour (where the bartender simultaneously pours a massive amount of vodka, gin, rum, and tequila), an unnaturally blue or yellow liquid that’s supposed to resemble orange flavor, and the soda gun. So although I’ve been drinking for quite a long time, and am thankful and somewhat surprised that I haven’t yet developed a problem, I feel that in the past few years I’ve started to drink for the first time all over again.

In thinking about this month’s theme, and what to write for Happy Hour, I wanted to create something new; something that could give neophytes a glimpse of our wonderful world and seduce them to enter, but could also keep experienced cocktail drinkers satisfied. I wanted it to have a sweetness that is enticing to the virgin drinker but still balanced enough to show them that a cocktail need not be overwhelmingly sweet in order to be palatable. I didn’t necessarily want to completely hide the alcohol flavor either, which I think is the natural impulse when mixing for a beginner; I think when a quality liquor is used, it should be a highlighted aspect of the drink’s flavor profile.

With all that in mind, here’s this week’s cocktail creation:

L’Amant
2 oz. Gin
2 oz. French Vermouth
1 oz. Domaine de Canton (liqueur made from Cognac infused with baby Vietnamese ginger)
4 dashes simple syrup (about 2/3 of a teaspoon)
4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
2 dashes Peach Bitters (Fee Brothers)
Ice

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: coupe

First place your glass in the freezer for about 10 minutes or so. I recommend a chilled glass for almost all cocktails, but think it’s rather mandatory for this one. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker (make sure you have plenty of ice, with about 2/3 of the shaker filled with it) and shake vigorously, preferably for about 20 seconds if your hand can withstand the onset of frostbite. Strain into your chilled glass and enjoy.

The cocktail is named after the Marguerite Duras novel that was later made into the academy award winning film The Lover, which tells the story of a young french girl who has an affair with an older Chinese businessman in French Colonial Vietnam. The tale is a chronicle of the awakening of passion: of the transformational journey that life beholds for those willing to take on new experiences, which ultimately enable us to view our world in an entirely new way. I cannot take credit for the naming, however, as it was Kayoko who came up with the ingeniously befitting name that expresses everything I intended this cocktail to be.

For those of you who have never tried a cocktail or have trouble understanding why some of us are so passionate about them, allow this creation (and the other MxMo offerings from this month’s theme) to serve as your official invitation. And for those who have already stepped into the realm, I hope it meets your expectations and pleases your palates. Cheers!

Come back every Wednesday for Paystyle’s weekly Happy Hour column.

Photography by Vanessa Bahmani

5 Comments

  • kayce.
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    vanessa takes the best pics (and video)… :))

    i *LOVE* domaine de canton and pairing it w/ peach bitters = effing genius! another wednesday, another great cocktail!

  • Paystyle
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you so much, and Vanessa will appreciate your words, especially since this shoot was suuuuuuch and ordeal! I’m surprised the cocktail was still cold enough to drink after.

  • Jud-san
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Is this dry or sweet vermouth?

    A toast to Duras! who would definitely appreciate a cocktail named in her honor.

  • Vanessa Bahmani
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I loved this drink because it had a delicate and subtle fragrant taste- Cheers!

  • Paystyle
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Jud-san – French vermouth refers to dry vermouth, as it was originally a French invention, whereas Italian vermouth refers to sweet vermouth, for the same reason.

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