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Project 602 - The Worlds Most Complicated Cocktail
Project 602
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The Worlds Most Complicated Cocktail
Posted - Aug 2nd, 2014 11:48am
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Have you ever heard of the Green Rhum Thumb?  If so it means you were probably present at the 2011 Bar Vs Chef competition in Montreal, Canada.  If not, it means your the other 100% of the human population.

I've been on a cocktail kick lately.  Maybe its trending, or maybe I just fell into it by way of a low carb (read no beer) diet.  Either way, for the last few months, I've been reading, experimenting on my willing wife, and generally making a mess of the kitchen as I learn the ins and outs of classic cocktailing.

Its been fun, and I've learned a lot... and this is of course where I should have stopped.  I seem to approach everything at 400mph though, so when I came across a blog post describing the Green Rhum Thumb I knew it had to be recreated.  For what better test of my mixology metal could there be than to recreate the worlds most complicated cocktail!?

Well actually, as it turns out, there's a lot of better tests.  In fact, perfecting and learning about the more simple drinks turns out to be just as - if not more - difficult as concocting this monstrosity.  After all, no one has a clue how this sucker should taste, but there's certain expectations when it comes to something like a mint julep.

Nevertheless, the journey has been fun, and I wanted to share both the recipe, and how it tastes (something woefully left out of the original article).  So here goes.

The Green Rhum Thumb:
  • 1 oz Orange Infused Rum
  • 1 oz Hops Infused Rum
  • 1/4 oz Allspice Gastric
  • 1/2 oz Caramelized Banana Syrup
  • 2 tsp Blue Mountain Coffee Bitters
  • *** Pour all ingredients into a shaker, add ice, and shake for 20 seconds.  Carbonate and serve in a champagne flute.  Decorate with a banana slice, a leaf and your all done!

Did I mention you can't buy most/any of this stuff?  You have to make it all.  Here's the breakdown:

Orange Infused Rum:
  • 750ml of Appleton Reserve Rum
  • 2 Med/Large oranges
  • *** Using a knife, peel the rinds from both oranges (try not to get too much pith) and put that long with the rum in a large mason jar.  Store in a cool dark place (not a fridge) for about 3 weeks, shaking once a day for 10-15 seconds).

Hops Infused Rum:
  • 750ml of Appleton Reserve Rum
  • 1/3 oz Columbus hops
  • *** Using and electric hot plate or burner OUTSIDE - mix the hops into the rum and heat ~160 for at 5-10 minutes.  Filter the the hops out first with a sieve, then with cheese cloth until there are no fine particles left.

Allspice Gastric:
  • 1 1/4 cups of lemon juice (~6-8 med lemons)
  • 1 1/4 cups of water
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar (aka 1 lb)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup allspice berries (crushed)
  • 1 cup fresh pink grapefruit juice (~2 grapefruit)
  • *** Melt the sugar on medium temperature with the water and lemon juice.  Once melted, add the vinegar and allspice, then gradually put in the grapefruit juice.  Keep heat on until most of the bubbles disappear.  Chill and filter twice, once with a regular strainer, and then with a fine mesh tea strainer (or something similar).

Caramelized banana syrup:
  • 6 bananas, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ***Put the butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a pan until it starts caramelizing.  Add the bananas until they start to brown, then add the rest of the sugar along with the water.  Let simmer until the bananas start to fall apart, then chill.  Once cold, strain through a cheesecloth to get a somewhat particle free syrup.

Blue Mountain Coffee Bitters:
  • 1 750ml bottle Appleton Estate V/X Rum
  • 3 teaspoons white cardamom
  • 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons angelic leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
  • 2 cloves, crushed
  • 1 nutmeg, crushed
  • 1 star anise, crushed
  • 1 wormwood stick
  • 1 Tonka bean, crushed
  • 3 teaspoons Allspice
  • 6 teaspoons Blue Mountain Coffee, crushed
  • 6 teaspoons Blue Mountain Coffee, uncrushed
  • Dried peels from one Mandarin, one orange, one lemon, one lime
  • 3/4 cup simple syrup, made with equal parts sugar and water
  • ***Dry the peels of the citrus for 4-5 days in the sun, then put it and the rest of the dry ingredients in a Mason jar with the rum.  Shake at least once a day for 10-15 seconds and keep at room temperature in a dark place.  After 3 weeks, add the simple syrup then refrigerate for a week, always shaking at least once a day.

Still with me????

I suppose I should mention a few things at this point - like the fact that the recipe originally called for cannabis infused rum, not hops infused rum.  On the off chance that marijuana is legal where you live you'll find it adds about $150 to the already costly list of ingredients above.  Meanwhile the hops will cost you only about a $1.99 and per the very excited, card carrying sales clerk who helped me pick out this exact strain of hops - the taste/smell is going to be pretty close.

Additionally, if you live in the good ol' U.S.A - you'll find that Tonka Beans are illegal for non-ceremonial purposes.  Fortunately there's a few wicka/shaman/spiritual stores on amazon that sell them.  So yes, its going to require that you buy special beans over the internet from a witch doctor, but at least they aren't poisonous!?

Lastly, I had to make a few corrections (angelica root instead of angelic leaves), some minor modifications (the original banana syrup recipe came out nearly solid), and fill in a few gaps(there were no instructions on how to make the cannabis rum for example).  I think the end result though should be pretty close to the original, and if you scour the various spice and liquor stores on the interwebs you should be able to find most of this stuff pretty cheap.  In case it helps, I ordered from The Spice House, The Great American Spice Co, and The Monterey Bay Spice Co.

So what does it taste like you ask? Kinda like beer actually.

First off - let me say that most of the individual ingredients are fantastic.  The orange rum is wonderfully aromatic, the banana syrup could go directly on top of pancakes, and the allspice gastric is totally unique.  There's a whole pile of stuff I want to try making with that last one, and since you only need a half ounce per drink I have plenty left over to play with.

The bitters and the hops infused rum are a little more challenging, but each turned out well in their own right.  While the rest of the ingredients are sweet, these both have a bitter edge to them.  I'm still kind of amazed that it called for 2 teaspoons of bitters per drink.  Its a little much in my opinion.  This, however, is partly why the result ends up tasting beer like.  Its some moderately sweet ingredients and some moderately bitter ones all tied together with carbonation that adds a breadiness to the mix.

I tried the drink out on my ever willing wife and my friends Veronica and McCoy.  The only thing I could think of to pair this with was jerk chicken so I found a great recipe and cooked up a batch.  The verdict was unanimous: The chicken was fantastic - the drink was.... not bad.  Its a really challenging beverage.  The alcohol isn't entirely up-front but its in the 2nd row.  Its well balanced from a sweet/bitter perspective, but the banana bread and coffee flavors don't mix all that well with the citrus.  The bitterness also seems to kill off all that wonderful brown sugar flavor the rum brings to the table.  Probably not something I would make again, but its an experience that filled my head with all sorts of neat ideas.

So if your thinking of giving this a try - I'd say go for it.  I learned a lot and have all kinds of fun leftovers to play with.  Not to mention that it finally gave me a good reason to buy a carbonator! Now you'll have to excuse me - my liver needs a rest and I have to go carbonate a bunch of random things in the fridge.
 In case your wondering about the 2 different rums.  The reserve is much smoother, tastes sweeter, and smells wonderfully of brown sugar when compared to the VX  The orange rum was pretty simple.  Made the house smell great too! Now I just have to wait a month before I can try it. No clue if this kind of hops is common or easy to find, but it sure was cheap. I used this poor excuse for a double boiler to infuse the rum. You definitely need cheese cloth for this - even the tea stainer left lots of hops grit. The resulting hop-rum should be particle free and smell like a grateful dead concert.  Another day, another series of random spices from the internets. The Tonka beans tasted bitter, but smelled like a wonderful combination of vanilla and cinnamon.  I thought the wormwood would smell good too.  I was wrong.  Smells like yard clippings, tastes like bitter death. Here's another odd one.  I hadn't even heard of white cardamom before.  They dry it on the coast so its sun bleached, a little salty, and milder than the regular stuff.  No clue why the recipe called for it specifically? Another batch of citrus peels made the house smell wonderful again. Of course they don't amount to much once they are dried out - I have to admit I dried them indoors though.  Not sure if it mattered.  When you finally get everything together for the bitters - this is what it will look like. All the herbs crushed laid out all fancy like.  The fruits of my labor... and about 15 hours of shopping on the internet. Getting the ingredients for the allspice gastric together was easy.  Though I didnt buy enough lemons the first go. Since crushed allspice isnt a thing, I bought whole berries and mashed em up in a mortar. If all goes well, you should end up with a delicious pot of um... this stuff Once its cool enough to handle you can start straining.  A tea strainer works great as a round 2. The original recipe called for a brita filter - I tried this contraption with coffee filters instead.  I highly suggest just straining it as this didn't do much more. The gastric should look like this in the end - mostly clear and nearly oily to the touch. Nearing the finish line - it's time to cook some bananas!  I think I overdid it a bit - the mush kinda soaked up all the water/sugar.  Mmmmm - banana glop Even after modifying the original recipe with more water/sugar and squeezing for almost an hour, I still only managed a measly 5 ounces of banana syrup.  Since pot leaves weren't an option, I made some bad imitations out of bitter leaves from the asian market. Here is what your months worth of work will look like in the end. Its no Perlini, but this carbonator did the trick just fine.  I present to you - the Green Rhum Thumb! Another project completed, it was finally time for a drink.  Cheers everyone!
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