Believe it or not, sometimes even Tom and I need a break from wine drinking (gasp)!
So when he and Cy came over last Saturday I was in the mood for something different – an actual cocktail for a change. I used to drink cocktails , but aside from the occasional margarita or rum punch, these days I rarely do. When I’m not drinking wine from First Vine, I enjoy ordering wine out because I like to try different things and also it’s interesting to get a sense of what’s being poured around town.
Poking around Yes! Saturday afternoon, I came across a couple of good looking mixers I’d not seen there before; Powell & Mahoney small batch lemon sour mix and also a ginger mix. While I’m generally not much for mixers of any kind I am a sucker for pretty packaging so I grabbed the sour mixer and went on my way. That night I mixed 1 part vodka with 1 1/2 parts sour mix, poured it into tall glasses over crushed ice then added a seltzer top off. The cocktails were terrific – the P& M sour mix is super tart and lemony with just enough sugar. It also contains bitters which gives it a nice herbal finish with a little bit of a bite. Head and shoulders above the syrupy chemical tasting schlock you usually find at the supermarket.
To go along with the vodka collinses, I made a quick smoked trout cheese ball that we served with crackers. For the cheese ball, take a softened 8 oz package of cream cheese and combine it with 6 – 8 ounces of flaked smoked fish ( I used trout but bluefish, salmon or any other smoked fish would work here). Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a tablespoon or 2 of horseradish or wasabi, and 3 or 4 tbsp chopped parsley. After mixing well, put it put onto plastic wrap and roll it into a ball. Roll the ball in whatever chopped nuts or seeds you have on hand (I used small roasted pumpkin seeds) then chill in the fridge for a few hours.
If you’d like to pair a wine with this after all, I’d go with a super dry white wine. You’re going to want something slightly acidic to cut through the richness of the fish and cream cheese (which is why the puckery vodka sours worked so well). But at the same time your wine should be assertive enough to stand up to the wasabi / smoky tastes. First Vine has a couple of Gaillacs you may want to try , both would pair very well with the cheese ball and make great aperitifs in general. These wines are from the same Languedoc producer and they both retail for $12/bottle.
The first wine is the 2008 Gaillac Blanc Sec, which was made using Mauzac and Muscadelle grapes. The Mauzac grapes are the oldest varietal in the region and contribute a sort of green apple or pear quality to the wine. The Muscadelle is slightly floral and makes a wine that is light bodied and dry. The second wine is the 2010 Fraicheur Perlee, which contains Mauzac, Muscadelle and Loin de L’oeil grapes. This last varietal adds depth and crispness, giving the wine a fresh and sparkly quality ( as the name “pearl” implies). Either way you won’t go wrong !