Ernest Hemingway was a legendary tippler, so much so that a well-known drink bears his name. The Hemingway Daiquiri, a.k.a. the Papa Doble, took the traditional Cuban cocktail, doubled the rum, and replaced the sugar with grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur (a funky, dry distillate that bears no resemblance to the neon-red stuff).
At Canard, creative director Leslie Ross has taken Papa’s daiquiri on a trip across the pond to an island of an entirely different sort: the fog-shrouded and rocky shores of Islay, part of the Inner Hebrides archipelago, off the coast of Scotland. Islay whiskies, such as the Laphroaig used here, are known for the salty, intensely smoky flavor imparted by the peat that is burned during the malting process.
If spirits were mapped on a flavor spectrum, Islay scotch would be about as far away as possible from the clean Cuban-style rum found in a daiquiri, but Ross has made it work. She combines the Laphroaig with lime juice and maraschino and grapefruit liqueurs. Then she adds two oddball house-made ingredients: an “horchata” made from cantaloupe seeds and an orgeat made from cashews instead of the typical almonds. For the presentation, she says, “The salt and pepper pull double duty, since both are reminiscent of a sandy beach. And as we Texans know, salt and pepper on slices of ripe Pecos cantaloupe was a common summer treat when visiting grandparents.” Just like most of her cocktails, this one is high-concept, as much an academic exercise as a culinary one and as delicious as it is exotic.
1 1/2 ounces Laphroaig Select
1 ounce cantaloupe-seed horchata*
1/2 ounce cashew orgeat** (traditional orgeat is an acceptable substitute)
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 teaspoon Giffard Crème de Pamplemousse Rose (grapefruit liqueur)
1 teaspoon Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously with ice to chill. Strain onto crushed ice in a sling or pilsner glass that has been rimmed with salt and pepper. Garnish with a melon ball and a lime wedge.
*Scoop out the seeds and flesh of a canteloupe into a blender. Add 2 ounces each of lime juice and simple syrup. Blend. Add six strips of lime peel and refrigerate overnight. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
**Place 2 1/4 cups of toasted unsalted cashews in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cover with 3 1/2 cups of water and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain, discarding the water.
In a food processor or blender, lightly pulse the cashews until they are coarsely ground.
Return the ground cashews to the bowl, cover with 3 1/2 cups of distilled water, and soak for 4 to 5 hours, stirring the mixture well every hour or so. Strain liquid into a 1-liter glass jar through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the cashews.
Add 1/2 cup of cane sugar to the liquid, close the lid tightly, and shake the jar vigorously, repeating several times over 15 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved.
Add 1 ounce of vodka and 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water and stir thoroughly. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 to 3 cups.