When most of us think of a thesaurus we picture that book that they handed us at some point in middle or high school that was going to make us all into better writers. Instead of saying “Johnny is a happy boy,” we could now say “Johnny is an exuberant boy!” A thesaurus taught us how to enhance our writing by using words that were related to one another. What Roget’s Thesaurus did for our writing, The Flavor Thesaurus by Niki Segnit will do for our cooking and cocktail making. We need only to look up an ingredient in Segnit’s book and we will learn what it pairs best with. You can also trust your own intuition here and use flavor combinations that you know work well for you in your kitchen. I love the Army and Navy, a classic cocktail that first became popular in the 1940s, but I wanted to make it my own for a cocktail party we had coming up with friends. I had some ideas that I needed to feel sure about, and so I consulted The Flavor Thesaurus. In addition to gin and lemon juice, the Army and Navy uses orgeat, an almond flavored syrup, which pairs nicely with apricot, ginger, and cardamom (just the direction I was going in). So I introduced those three new elements into the drink and came up with something that was new and different, yet still remained true to the original. I like to call it the Army and Navy Special Forces. It might take a little bit of hunting to get all the ingredients for this one, but I find that part to be half the fun!
1.5 oz Bluecoat Gin*
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz orgeat (almond syrup)**
1/4 oz Rothman & Winter apricot liqueur
1/4 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
1 dash Scrappy’s cardamom bitters***
1 piece of candied ginger
Combine all the ingredients except the candied ginger and the hibiscus salt into a cocktail shaker and fill 3/4 of the way with ice. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass that you’ve chilled in the freezer. Thread a piece of candied ginger onto a cocktail pick. Garnish the drink with some hibiscus salt and the candied ginger skewer. Enjoy!
*I used Bluecoat in this recipe because I wanted a gin that was a bit less aromatic and herbal.
***Aromatic bitters would also work here in place of the cardamom or you could try a dash of each.
****A tiny bit of salt added to cocktails with citrus makes the flavors really pop. I chose the hibiscus here because it’s coloring is dark and it looks pretty as a garnish. You can definitely substitute!