A few years ago, whilst working in one of the more prestigious bars that I have been employed by over the years, I found myself confronted with a challenge from a customer. This gentleman stood and looked over the whole of the cocktail menu for quite some time before closing it and questioning why he could rarely ever find a recipe that used his favourite spirit? Obviously my next question was to ask what his favourite spirit was. I was confronted with the response “black Sambuca”. Not shy of a challenge I confidently said “leave that with me Sir, I’ll bring your drink over shortly.”
As I turned and looked at the bottle of ‘Opal Nera’ that we served as our house Sambuca, all sorts of ideas starting going through my mind. I decided to keep the drink simple however. I started with some raspberry puree and Chambord, pouring both into a shaker, about 25ml of each. I then added about 30ml of the Sambuca, not wanting to overpower the drink but wanting it to be the prominent flavour. Once I gave these a shake and tasted it I was reasonably pleased. There was obviously something more needed though to soften the harsh alcoholic flavours. Once lengthened with cloudy apple juice I concluded that I had created something I wasn’t ashamed of serving. Thankfully the customer agreed.
The following day I decided to refine the recipe: swapping the raspberry puree for fresh raspberries, and adding some fresh muddled Granny Smith apple for a slightly sour bite. Serving the drink long in a Catalina, and garnishing with an apple fan, and whole star anise I decided I was finally happy. This is still a drink that I will proudly serve today.
- Muddle 6 fresh Raspberries, ¼ Granny Smith Apple
- 25ml Chambord
- 50ml Cloudy Apple Juice
- Shake hard over cubed ice
- In a Catalina:
- Fill with crushed ice
- 30ml Opal Nera
- Double strain raspberry, apple, Chambord and apple juice on top so the drink layers.
- Apple Fan
- Whole Star Anise