It’s official! Apparently we can all be much healthier if we get more of the wonder-spice turmeric in our bellies. Having no greater concern than our ahem collective healths I reckoned I could make my own little contribution to packing more curcumin into our diets. I hereby present the Humbaba, a twist on the Whisky Sour or perhaps more accurately (and appropriately) the Penicillin. If you are not familiar with turmeric it is a wonderful spice much used in Indian and Persian cuisine with a pleasant bitterness, pungent aroma and incredibly intense rusty orange colour. So intense that almost no matter how much you dilute this stuff you’ll get a final drink with a rusty/yolky hue. I found that a level teaspoon of fine turmeric powder in every 100ml of home-made ginger syrup was the right ratio of sweet to bitter. Thereafter I proceeded to make a whisky sour but with a bit more syrup than usual because of the bitter content. The basic formula of 2 parts whisky to a part each of the syrup and lemon juice was quite pleasing so I then turned my attention to finding the right whisky. After some trial and error I settled on a 50/50 mix of peaty Islay malt and a milder whisky – initially Irish but finally a Scottish blended malt. Either will get you somewhere desirable. Specifically I went for 1oz of Finlaggan Original, an incredibly good value Islay malt that while lacking in subtlety and age is a great affordable way to get some peat smoke intensity in your mixed drinks. An ounce of reliable mixer Monkey Shoulder completed the picture. My Irish choice was Teeling Small Batch but my bottle ran dry before the tinkering was done and Monkey Shoulder worked just as well – or maybe just a touch better. So besides the making of the ginger & turmeric syrup – which I’ll go through under the recipe for those not used to making their own ginger syrup – this worked out to be a nice easy equal parts spec (always nice) with a very standard mixing process. And to me the interaction of the turmeric with the whisky is simply epic. Speaking of which you might be wondering about the drink’s funny name. Well, way long ago Humbaba was simply minding his own business doing a bit of guardianing in the cedar forest when along comes this dude Gilgamesh and his mate Enkidu and kill him to death for no apparent reason. Poor Humbaba. I reckon he needs a drink.
1oz/30ml Islay malt whisky
1oz/30ml mild Scotch or Irish whisky (see text)
1oz/30ml fresh lemon juice
1oz/30ml ginger & turmeric syrup (see below)
Shake with ice and strain into a double Old Fashioned glass containing a big block of ball of ice.
Ginger syrup and ginger & turmeric syrup.
Peel a chunk of fresh ginger about the size of two fingers with a potato peeler. Don’t worry about getting every last piece of the skin off. Chop into thinish slices. Hopefully that should be around 70g. Throw that into a blender along with 200g of fine sugar and 200ml of very hot water then pulse blend about 20 times. Leave it in the blender (or in a bowl) for about 2 hours then strain through a fine sieve pressing down on the ginger pulp with a spoon to get maximum gingeriness. Put into a sterilised bottle. Shake well and keep in the fridge. To make a ginger and turmeric syrup simply divert some of that and add fine turmeric powder at the ratio of 1 level teaspoon per 100ml. Shake this syrup well before use as the turmeric tends to settle towards the bottom of the bottle.