The Selkie’s Tears.
Look, we’ve known each other for quite a long time, right? Well, there’s something I need to tell you. It’s something I’ve been in self-denial about for many years and I only now feel able to talk about. I don’t like dry vermouth. Yes, I know you thought I liked every kind of booze and the Tiki Gods know I’ve tried to like dry vermouth but there we are. Phew. In a weird way I feel better now. It was trying to make this drink work that made me realise this terrible flaw in my palate. It seems to demand some dry vermouth to balance the sweetness of The King’s Ginger but, meh, then it tasted like some kind of broken Martini. Luckily I just love Lillet Blanc which, while technically doesn’t have the required bitterness, somehow works perfectly in The Selkie’s Tears. But then this also troubles me as I normally have a pretty good understanding of why a drink works and this time I’m at something of a loss. It just does. Maybe there’s just enough bitterness from the celery bitters and just enough saltiness leaching out of the samphire garnish. Of course I could just be wrong but to me this combination quite wonderful. It’s a fairly subtle affair that I think is letting each of the ingredients express themselves without stepping on each others’ toes. There’s no doubting that it’s very much a whisky drink so if you’re not a Scotch fan you might not want to go here, but if you are give this one a whirl. To be honest, this cocktail is, as yet, untested on any other human – although my Selkie friends seem to love it* – so I’d be more than happy to get some feedback.
Now I do understand that there are a couple of unusual ingredients here so let’s run through them all:
Monkey Shoulder. An excellent mixing Scotch that is a blend of malt whiskies. It’s affordable, available and gets an “A” in my book.
Lillet Blanc. A French aperitif with a slight lemony edge and a subtle but rounded bitterness. Essential ingredient in the Corpse Reviver #2 and the Vesper. Also tasty on its own with ice and a slice. Once opened keep refrigerated and/or vacuum stoppered.
The King’s Ginger. A 41%ABV Scotch based liqueur with ginger and lemon notes that claims to be ancient but I’m pretty sure isn’t. It’s none the worse for that though. Having said that it’s a bit tricksy to mix with and might best be used to add a bit of oomph to a dull blended whisky on a cold day.
Celery bitters. I used Bitter Truth ones which are quite delicious and are part of their handy traveler’s set which is an essential sampler for the bitters beginner.
Samphire. A salty, crunchy and super-tasty mini-vegetable that grows by the sea. Basically it’s vegan bacon. The fish section of supermarkets or your local fish shop probably stock it. The usual advice is to steam or boil it. Nonsense – it’s best raw. Any leftovers can be chopped up and used to spruce up a salad. Word is that it doesn’t freeze well.
The Selkie’s Tears.
1.5oz / 45ml Monkey Shoulder Scotch whisky.
0.75oz / 22ml Lillet Blanc.
0.5oz / 15ml The King’s Ginger (a Scotch based ginger/lemon liqueur).
2 or 3 dashes of Bitter Truth celery bitters.
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled Champagne coupé.
Garnish with a sprig of raw samphire.
Toast the Selkie folk who live amongst us but yearn for the sea.
*I think it’s the samphire they like.