Interesting and succinct recipe for the 'perfect' hamburger.
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I went on a syrup-making kick earlier this summer, and had a bit of a spoilage problem. My last falernum got clumpy, my vanilla syrup got attacked by ants (of all things), my 2:1 syrup crystallized, and my homemade grenadine got moldy. Undaunted, I vowed to try, try again until I perfected my recipes.
So, the trick this time was to make a good falernum which would be stable at room temperature or slightly cooler (the bar is in a basement). I made four notable changes to the recipe:
1. Made a smaller batch. Falernum's pretty easy to make, so a smaller batch means less chance of spoilage
2. Left out the lime juice from previous recipes. Some forum discussions suggested that adding the lime juice in previous batches were the cause of some of the cloudiness and spoilage. So I left it out, just to see if it affected the taste.
3. Used invert sugar. It has a longer shelf life, tastes sweeter, and shouldn't crystallize. That's where the lemon juice comes from in the recipe. The simple syrup is 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice. Boil the syrup for 10-15 min, making sure to keep stirring, lest it burn and darken the syrup considerably.
4. Added a pinch of sodium metabisulphite. It's used as a disinfectant, antioxidant and preservative agent in wine and other fruit-based products. It only takes a 1/4 tsp to sulphite a gallon of wine to 60 ppm. A tiny pinch should do, without imparting a sulphur taste to the falernum.
Here's the recipe:
250ml Wray & Nephew overproof rum
Zest of 2 limes
Zest of 1 lemon
30 whole cloves
1 tbsp chopped ginger, skin on
1/4 tsp orange flower water
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1:1 simple syrup to fill 375ml bottle
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of sodium metabisulphite
Add rum, zests, cloves, and ginger to a 12oz wide-mouth bottle or jar and let soak for 24 hours. Strain through a jelly strainer (these are perfect for all syrup/vinegar/liqueur recipes) with a drip coffee filter nested inside. Do this three times. Add extracts and orange flower water to the liquor, and funnel into a 375ml wine bottle. Add pinch of sulphite, and fill with the invert sugar syrup.
The falernum came out quite tasty, though I would leave out the orange flower water next time. I figured it might add some complexity that was lost with the smaller quantity of lime zest. I didn't notice the sulphite, and I served falernum sodas at a party on Saturday, with compliments.
So, not a bad recipe. I would add allspice back into the next recipe (I used mine all up making allspice dram), and would try to scale it back up to a 750ml bottle, since this batch will be gone by the end of the week.
Here's an interesting essay on the Mai Tai. It explains how a drink with such a closely guarded secret recipe (like the "Flaming Moe") could cause such confusion down the line. The drink wasn't even published in Trader Vic's books:
Since Trader Vic was not about to share this recipe with his customers, much less other bartenders, if somebody happened to have a Mai Tai at Trader Vic, and then innocently attempted to order it at another bar, they would of course have a problem. At first, most bartenders would not have heard of this drink before, and so would admit their inability to make this drink for their customer, but in many cases they would try to quiz the customer as to what they recall about the drink, and thus be able to provide them with a close approximation. Imagine the customer describing the drink as: "It was a rum drink, with some sort of juices in it, and I think a bit of a reddish color". This of course could describe almost any of the drinks served by these Tiki bars, and yet the bartender would often try to piece something together that would make their customer happy. Often, they would come up with something that probably tasted quite good, and thus the next time a customer came in asking for a Mai Tai, they would deftly mix up another one of these drinks and eventually it would probably even make it onto their bar menu. This process would have then eventually brought about a dozen different recipes being served at the dozens of different Tiki bars across the country. Eventually, the dilution of this drink would have gotten so great, that the various bars themselves would have forgotten exactly how they came about these recipes, to the point of thinking that perhaps "they" were the origin of this by now common cocktail.