Sake + Shochu Talk
Cherry Samba 2

Since returning from New Orleans it seems like the pace of my life has only sped up, so I was thankful to be able to take a breather last week and have Kayoko fill in for me with an awesome post about Savoy Night at The Alembic in San Francisco. Truth be told, I would have been quite content with having another week off, as it Sloth Season this month. But too much sloth can mean a slow death, so it's back to the grind this week. But just in case you feel like being slothy yourself, not only will I keep this post short and sweet, but the cocktail recipe's quite a simple one this week as well.

Last week highlighted the amazing cocktailery going on at the Alembic, so I figured I'd give some Yay Area love this week as well. In fact when it comes to craft cocktailing, SF is probably the only big city that can really give NY some competition, as  LA's cocktail renaissance is still nascent; Seattle and Portland, as wonderfully creative as their cocktail scenes are, are not big cities; and Miami isn't even on the map--I think someone in Miami recently discovered bitters.

This week's cocktail is called the Cherry Samba, a drink born in the Bay. It was created by Neyah White, the former bartender at Nopa in SF, and now brand ambassador for Yamazaki Whisky.  It's a refreshing and fantastically easy cocktail to prepare  I present it to you here with a minor change that to me improves and simplifies the drink a bit.

Cherry Samba
2 oz. cachaca (Brazil's version of rum)
1 oz. Cherry Heering
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
5 dashes A.B. Smeby Highland Heather Bitters
brandied cherry for garnish

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: chilled cocktail or coupe

Fill a shaker with the ingredients and plenty of ice. Shake well while doing the Samba and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a brandied cherry.

If you're wondering why my cherry looks a bit off, it's because it's homemade, and in the process of slumbering for several months in a mixture of cognac, maraschino liqueur, and sugar, it developed a few wrinkles here and there. But it tastes just fantastic. If you don't feel like making your own brandied cherries, pick up a jar of Luxardo cherries if they're available in your area. Under no circumstances, however, should you use those atomic-red abominations we now refer to as maraschino cherries.

I mentioned that I modified this recipe a bit from the original, and the way I did so in a couple of ways. First, I dispensed with the egg whites--about .75 oz or half the whites of an egg to be precise--asked for in the original recipe. After making the drink numerous times with the egg whites, I concluded the egg whites were unnecessary in this drink.  Normally their purpose is to provide a silky top texture, but I felt that it clouded the drink too much, and that the drink was much more refreshing made in the traditional Daiquiri style. Hence there was no need for a dry shake (without ice) to properly aerate and froth the egg white (this is Sloth Season of course), and instead you can save your energy on making seconds and thirds.

Secondly, the recipe asked for 1/2 oz of a smoky Scotch such as Ardbeg, Laphroaig or Lagavulin, and since I had none on hand, I achieved the smoke-flavored effect by subbing in several dashes of the wonderfully smoky and peaty Highland Heather Bitters created by A.B. Smeby.

While I have no criticism of the recipe as originally intended--and you should try both to see which you find preferable--I think the modified version is a bit more streamlined and simplified, two qualities my life could sure use a lot more of.


*Got a cocktail question? Hit me on twitter @paystyle, email me at payman(at)lifesacocktail(dot)com, or simply drop me a comment below.
Column: Happy Hour


  • Kayoko – Well, there’s no actual factory, as it’s still a home operation he runs out of his apartment.

    However in lieu of that, how’s this for an Umamiventure idea: I’ll talk to Louis and see if he can give a little talk about his product, his passion, and his creative and technical process of extracting flavors for bitters, and people can sample some of the goods. And maybe I’ll make a few cocktails that highlight his stuff for people to try.

    Then afterward we can decamp to a local bar or something. The only thing is I can’t have too many people if it’s at my place (maybe 10ish max), and people may have to pitch in a certain amount each so I’m compensated for the liquor (thinking maybe $15-20pp?). Unfortunately I’m in close-to-broke status otherwise I usually front the cost.

    Let’s discuss in email.

    Paystyle on

  • Nice Pay, I like this. Will need to go pick up some cherry heering. And I want some of those bitters! Any way we can go visit the Smeby Factory when I’m there in September? Umamiventure…?

    Sidenote: I’m breaking into your house for a jar of your cherries.


    kayoko on

  • Ha, yah I was kidding when I called it the “Factory”.

    Yes, let’s brainstorm. Loving this idea.

    kayoko on

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