O loyal reader, it seems I owe you an apology. Reviewing my recent ramblings I realise I’ve been leaning rather heavily on my own loves (yes, rum and Tiki) rather than truly exploring the wider world of cocktail diversity. My bad. To redress this egregious imbalance I present to you this very day a drink of my own creation that is both the polar opposite of Tiki and fucking delicious (if I do say so myself). Furthermore it is also low in alcohol without being all wishy-washy like some low proof drinks are wont to be.
In a moment of curiosity I wondered if ruby port would work as the base “spirit” in an Old Fashioned. Spoiler alert: It turns out with a bit of tweaking it works wonderfully. But first a quick time-out to explain that there already exists a well established drink called a Port Old Fashioned that is not a Port Old Fashioned. Yup. Because it’s actually a rye or bourbon base with just a little port added. Why anyone thought they could use up the name on that drink is a mystery to me but at least opens the gate for me to give my totally port based O.F. a more interesting name. Hence “Blood Meridian” from the name of the astonishing if harrowing book of (mostly*) the same name by Cormac McCarthy.** Those tweaks though: I settled on ginger syrup – the freshly made kind wot I explainified to you a while back – for the pleasant way it interacted with the heavy tannins in the port as my sweet component. The bitters I liked best in it were the illustrious Bogart’s reboot from The Bitter Truth which melded seamlessly into the port. But there was still further to go. I thought first of adding a dash of orange bitters but instead took a thin 5cm/2” swathe of orange peel and dropped it into the mixing tin where it would release some oils during the stirring process without adding any more bitterness. Old Fashioned variants are normally served “down” with a block of ice (at least these days) but port being a mere 20% abv needs no further dilution so we serve it on the stem – coupe or Nick & Nora – instead. Being balanced to my satisfaction I felt no inclination to garnish my Blood Meridian so left it as naked as a judge on a trek through the desert. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
2oz / 60ml Ruby port – reserve or even LBV.
1 tsp Ginger syrup (best if homemade).
3-4 dashes of Bogart’s (or another aromatic) bitters.
5cm / 2 inch very fine swathe of orange peel.
Stir all above ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe or Nick & Nora glass. No garnish.
Toast Cormac McCarthy.
*Because “Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West” is a bit wordy for a cocktail name.
**Those on a quest to find The Great American novel need search no further.