A Whole New World (Jasmine Cocktail)

Jasmine CocktailWhen someone says the word jasmine, I think of two things. The first is my father’s 1992 VW Cabriolet in Jasmine Yellow. Yes, that is old for a VW. Without expounding too much, that is the car that defined my childhood and there is a wealth of memories that go with it. But I’d like to concentrate on the second association… and this is also something that hearkens back to my childhood. If you are a child of the ’90s, you probably watched more than your fair share of the movie Aladdin. Perhaps you rented it from the library (“Library, what’s that?” you say) on a monthly basis. Maybe it’s your favorite Disney movie. Or maybe you just really like Abu! Anyway, Jasmine is the name of a certain ferociously independent and troublemaking princess who somehow captures the attention of our protagonist, the street rat and bread stealer, Aladdin. (Let’s note that the story has been Disney-fied and cleaned up from the version that appears in The Arabian Nights. And I know this because finishing all six volumes of stories is my goal for the year. Thanks again, Melissa!) Aladdin cleans up his act via a lamp and a genie and poses as someone who is worthy of a princess. With the help of his trusty magic carpet and a decent voice, he wins her over:

I can show you the world
Shinning, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, reader, when did
You last let your tastebuds decide

I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder
Over, sideways and under (the influence)
On a magic gin-filled ride

Since this is our first cocktail post of what should be many, I hope you enjoyed the liberties that I have taken with the lyrics. That’s what happens when you don’t blog responsibly. What we present here is not a drink light on the alcohol, even though it may taste refreshing. It is great before dinner, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying one at any time. A jasmine has what every cocktail, and princess, should have: at least three ingredients including plenty of spirits and a bit of the bitters. Here gin serves as the spirit, Campari, the bitter and the coloring agent, and lemon juice, the brightener (but we can’t forget the wonderful orange flavor of Cointreau). If we remove the Campari, we are left with a White Lady, which is also very enjoyable, but less balanced without anything to blunt the sourness of the lemon. I have heard from several (reliable) sources that this drink has a taste similar to grapefruit, probably due to the mixture of citrus and bitter. I choose to disagree, but you should decide for yourself. So without further ado:

2 ounces gin (I like Martin Miller’s because the juniper does not overpower)
1 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Campari
Juice of half a lemon (but go ahead, make a second drink with the other half!)

Place all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Make sure you use a strainer to catch the lemon seeds and pulp. Shake and strain into a chilled martini or margarita glass. Garnish with a lemon peel if you want to be classy. Go back and rediscover Aladdin.

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