The price of consumer off-premise liquor in California is far lower than that of my home state, New York. This is due to a number of factors, all of which are too boring and opaque to get into. It was a tremendous selling point for me, and a complete culture shock, that in California, one can purchase strong spirits in grocery stores, gas stations, or, if you prefer, your local CVS, and not just at designated licensed stores that may or may not have sales counters flanked with bullet-proof glass. Cheap booze flows in the streets, here, it seems.
Interesting fact, though, that the price of prepared beverages, IE drinks you buy at a bar, is pretty much evenseys between the giant city where I used to live and the one where I now reside. In both places, t’s an easy thing (particularly in the age of plastic currency) to waltz into a bar, blink, and spend fifty or sixty bucks.
What a revelation, then, to find that for that same fifty or sixty bones, one can dance on over to the Trader Joe’s and stock one’s entire home bar!
So I’ve been mixing at home, I guess is the point of all this. I mean, I went to bartending school. At Columbia. (Recipe after the jump, y’all)
Last week’s creation: The Tiger Hill Gimlet.*
1-2 sprigs fresh cilantro (omit if you are a cilantro-phobe. I know it’s not your fault)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1-2 squirts agave simple (AKA watered down agave syrup)
Tequila–blanco or, preferably, reposado. I used some Hornitos Rep. that I got on sale, but the drink is still quite tasty with my usual Trader Jose’s brand blanco.
Lightly muddle the cilantro (wooden spoons are excellent light muddlers if you happened to have left yours in Virginia) in your shaker.** Add the lime juice, turmeric, agave and tequila, swirl together sans-ice til smooth. Add ice, give it all a long, hard shake, and strain. I served it up in one of the nifty coup glasses I got from the Goodwill in Los Feliz.
Use lemon and it’s a Golden Sour.
Next recipe on tap:
The drink I made tonight, which is a pink sangria with cilantro-infused tequila, Campari (only $20 at TJs!!!), California white wine, and various other sundries. Will post if it doesn’t make me want to die tomorrow. Though I’m sure a nice sangria headache will get me off this cilantro kick. So there’s that.
*The Tiger Hill Gimlet is named in honor of a splendid sunrise I experienced after a wee-hour stopover at the highest railway station on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Its deep golden hue is reminiscent of nothing less than the first rays of daylight hitting the rock faces of Everest and Kangchenjunga as my companion and I huddled in the brisk dawn. Yep, definitely named for that, and not for the web search results that come up for “Darjeeling Sunrise,” which sounds like a drink that contains grenadine.
**Fun fact: if you don’t own or wish to purchase a cocktail shaker, a clean jar with a lid and a tea strainer will do just ghetto-fabulous-fine.