Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Monday Libation: Rosemary Salty Dog


First things first -- major kudos to Messy and Picky of, well...Messy and Picky, a truly fantastic Philadelphia food blog, for linking to Burning Pasta from their website! How they found this little site is news to me, but I appreciate their gesture -- very, very cool of them.

It's Monday here at Burning Pasta; our weekend wasn't long enough, and we're tired after a long day at work. In short, we could use a drink.

Yours truly has been quite busy recently -- closing on a new apartment (complete with a nice, big, new kitchen), paying my tuition for the semester, and a trip to New York, NY, where the Pasta Burner and I dined at Paladar, Aarón Sanchez's fantastic nuevo Latino bistro. Deserves a post of its own, honestly -- but not today.

Now, what do all of these things have in common? While all are positive things in the long (and short ) run, none of them are inexpensive. So, what do you do while the green is temporarily tight?

You improvise.

You adapt otherwise expensive recipes and cocktails into something that's easier on the wallet, but still satisfying to the palate. Besides, drinking always helps you forget the fact that you're living on beans and pasta for the next month (don't worry, we'll have recipes for those too).


So, it's Monday, time for a cocktail, blah, blah, blah. Let's get to it.

What to make in the doldrums of February? Something with bright flavors (spring is around the corner), but with a little salty snap to let you know this isn't just some little girly drink. To that end:

The Rosemary Salty Dog.


THE INGREDIENTS: A dozen red grapefruits, a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, some gi----

WAIT! Wait a second. I thought this was going to be cheap! Yes, it would be great to juice all those grapefruits by hand, to blow 40 dollars on the ingredients for this drink, but, unless you own a citrus farm, or, if you're feeling a little wealthy, we're going to have to make some substitutions. Let's try this again.


1 bottle Ocean Spray 100% Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice -- No, it's not as snappy. For the same yield of juice, it's also 8 dollars cheaper than a dozen grapefruits (at least in February). And do you really think you're going to get great grapefruits in the middle of winter? Come on, now. Add a half-teaspoon of food-grade citric acid, straight, if you want it more tart.

1 bottle of Gin, your choice. Let's use one of my favorites, Hendrick's.

On the other hand, wait. Hendrick's, while good, is about 30 dollars a bottle. Mixed into this drink, the smooth, cool cucumber and rose notes that make it perfect for sipping neat (really, it's wonderful by itself), will be obliterated. Let's go cheaper. My standby cocktail Gin is Broker's, but I'm out. Certainly Philadelphia's own Bluecoat, with it's predominant citrus flavors, would be an excellent choice here, and I do have that:

...but when I went to the State Store, the PLCB was pushing a new product:

Pinnacle Gin! There is no website. The sale price is 12.99. But who the hell cares? Remember: Don't be afraid to use the cheap stuff when you're mixing. Save the high end booze to be drank on its own, or in basic, simple cocktails (paging the Martini and Manhattan), that don't forgive flaws on the ground floor. So, Pinnacle it is.

Let's take a little sip, neat.

Hmmm...very mild, notes of anisette and pine sap in the nose...on the palate, juniper, plain as day, with a whiff of black current and a reasonably bold lash of alcohol on the swallow. I think it will work. If anything, the decidedly pine-like elements will help echo the rosemary. Now, will I buy this again? Eh, I'm not totally sure -- experience has taught me that a 12.99 bottle of gin does taste like a 12.99 bottle of gin, and this seems to be not much different. But for this drink, where there's so much else going on, it'll do just fine. I'll have no problem using it in different mixed drinks.

And, ah, yes! We need rosemary! You should grow your own rosemary. You should grow all of your own herbs, really, if you want to be taken as a serious cook. Honestly, if you're reading this and you don't grow your own herbs, then you don't deserve to...

Oh. Right. Well, fine -- I don't grow my own either. But I should, and you should too. For now, we have grocery store rosemary. Or at least "rasmery."

And that's good enough for now. Okay! That's all the ingredients. Let's get to it.

I like to mix my drinks in "parts," rather than set measurements. This saves you the trouble of trying to scale my cocktail recipes up to say, punchbowl size. Even a large dinner party becomes a pain to mix for when you're adding up fractions of ounces. So, in short, one part could be one ounce, one shot glass (typically 1.5 ozs.), or one cup. Listen, it's your drink --whatever you want to do is cool by me. That being said, for you anal-retentive measurers, consider one ounce to be the "part" size for your standard 4 oz. cocktail.

By the way, this recipe scales up fantastically -- I've made this in a mixing bowl and poured drinks for an entire apartment packed with people. I received no complaints.


One 1-inch piece of rosemary sprig per cocktail mixed (+ one extra sprig per drink, as garnish)
1 1/2 parts gin
2 parts tart ruby red grapefruit juice, fresh preferred, but bottled 100% juice will do
1 grapefruit wedge per drink (optional)
Simple Syrup to taste
(I like about a teaspoon per cocktail, but it depends on how tart you want it)
Kosher Salt (for the glass)
Lots of ice
Make Simple Syrup (one part white, refined sugar to one part water, cooked to a syrup):

Start by muddling the rosemary with the cooled simple syrup in the bottom of your mixing glass/shaker. Better yet, add the rosemary to the simple sugar when you're making it, and make Rosemary Simple Syrup.

Ooh, fancy.

Throw a nice big handful of ice cubes into the mixing glass/shaker, pour your gin on top, and, if you did the flavored syrup method, spoon the syrup on top.

Make sure your gin is room temperature -- we want a little dilution as it cools. This brings out the aromatics nicely. Besides, a good cocktail always has a little cool water in it. Add your grapefruit juice, and stir for about 30 seconds (or shake it, if you insist. No one likes a show-off, you know).

Moisten the rim of a cocktail glass (with some juice, preferably), and roll it in Kosher Salt.

Strain the drink into your glass.

Wait, you bought a grapefruit, didn't you? Aww, you're cute. Go ahead, cut a nice, juicy wedge, and put it in there. While you're at it, you could have used one of those wedges to moisten the cocktail glass rim a second ago. Regrets, regrets.

Oh, and don't forget to add a nice bright rosemary sprig for garnish! The final product:

So there you have it! The Rosemary Salty Dog.

Citrusy, piney, salty, an apertif that will please both seasoned drinkers and those who are -- well, okay. I lied a little bit, before, when I was describing the drink. It is a little girly. I mean, come on! It's pink! That being said, it's not absurdly girly. Maybe even a little preppy. How about...um...summery! Yes, something summery in the middle of winter. That works.

So, that's it. I promise, not every post will be this long. But you had fun, right?

Sip your drink, and enjoy the music. You'll find it's quite appropriate.

Music: Some Guy Named Mark -- "Salty Dog Blues"

Errr, um. Hold on. There has to be a related music selection better than that.

Ah! Here we go. Much better.

Music: Edison Lighthouse -- "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)":

That's better. See you next time, folks.


  1. I had one of those punchbowl-mixed 'dogs and it was fantastic!

    ¡Viva el Rasmery Salty Dog!

  2. The photos of the finished product are fantastic! I love the contrast of the drink color against the blue table.

  3. you'll be glad to know that i came up with this recipe in my head before i found your blog/site. guess i pulled it from the cosmos. even still, the recipe and outcome were basically the same. zero complaints and lots of wows. i'm helping a rest. create a signature drink menu and this drink was my first idea. i absolutely love a classic salty dog on the rocks. the only diff is i use rosemary infused simple syrup and instead of just salt as the rim job, i created a 70% salt,15% sugar and 15% rosemary dust rim job that i rim on only HALF of the martini glass.. some ppl appreciate this drink composition, but it goes over most ppl's heads. thanks for bein inventive and creative


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