Build-A-Bar Goes N/A: Nilsson Schmilsson

Categories: How To

NilssonSchmilssonSized.jpg
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
Remember: Drink 'em both up.
My wife is pregnant. It's our third time in the barrel, and as unexpected a ride as the prior two. We (think we) know what we're in for this time, though, so it should be smooth sailing. To help ensure pacific waters, I'm (mostly) teetotaling in sympathy with my wife for the next 40 weeks or so. That seems like a pretty good reason to revisit my semi-abandoned nonalcoholic "cocktail" experiments. Drink along with me.

Sometimes, inspiration comes from chasing an idea; other times, an intriguing new ingredient catches your eye. Once inspiration comes, it's just a matter of trial and error, tweaking and refining. One good thing about booze-less cocktailing is that the R&D doesn't decrease in quality as it increases in volume. That fact came in handy while I was developing this recipe, which took quite a bit of adjustment to get right.

When I go shopping these days, I'm pretty much always on the lookout for new and interesting ingredients. Without a boozy backbone, you have to find different ways to grab a drinker's attention, and a new or unusual flavor can do that handily. That's how I found myself staring down a bottle of coconut vinegar.

I put that vinegar through the paces for a few days, first trying it out subbed 1:1 for citrus in various actual cocktails, just to get a feel for it. Nothing really clicked. With its aggressive, biting acidity, vinegar can be difficult to work into drinks. Coconut vinegar is no different, though it does carry a subtle nuttiness that speaks to its origin, giving it a few more bridges to other flavors. I keep planning on turning it into a shrub, combining it with a bit of sugar and toasted coconut, to amplify the rich flavors that lurk under its surface, and to temper its sting. I'll let you know how that goes.

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