An Exciting Firecracker Cocktail: How to Make a Trinidad Sour
In this drink, Angostura Bitters takes center stage.
The cocktail world is divided into two types.
In one kind, each ingredient is briefly emphasized on the palate before being handed off to another. This can be an amazing experience.
However, the Trinidad Sour is different. The Trinidad Sour is another kind of cocktail.
When working behind a cocktail bar, bartenders will be frequently asked to make something from their mental cocktail rolodex, so called Bartender's Choice.
If a client asks the same question enough times, a bartender may occasionally want to experiment with it, to try something new and maybe even a little crazy while maintaining the same level of deliciousness. The Trinidad Sour is just that sort of cocktail. Basically, it's punk rock, the kind that makes you wonder, "what the hell is going on in my mouth?". Unless the speakers blow, it's punk rock.
When Giuseppe Gonzalez worked at the legendary Clover Club in Brooklyn in 2008, he invented the Trinidad Sour. A couple dashes of Angostura Bitters, which can be found in practically every decent bar on the planet, were deployed in a Manhattan or Old Fashioned as the base of a cocktail by him. This seems insane... but is it really? After all, they're 44.7 percent alcohol.
The taste is intensely bitter, but they're not as bitter as Campari or Fernet Branca or any of the other craft cocktail favorites. They taste powerfully of baking spices, but baking spices are delicious. In order to balance orgeat's sweetness, he added a bit of rye whiskey, just as a dry backbone, and added an ounce and a half of bitters. He then paired the cinnamon and cloves with almond florals of orgeat.
Perhaps others have tried cocktails infused with Angostura Bitters and experienced the same fate. Perhaps the cocktail sold tepidly for a season, ordered as a dare by adventurous bar guests and then faded away. The Trinidad Sour is a phenomenal drink that you must order in a cocktail bar in any major city in the world.
That's why you're reading this. Drinking one, you get the sensation that a liquid presses against the physical limit of its flavorfulness. It’s not just crazy, it’s bright and refreshing and vaguely tropical. Like I said, the other kind. It’s bright and explosive. The lemon is sour, the oreganeat is sweet, the bitters are bitter. There are peaks higher than other drinks, the lemon is sour, the oreganeat is sweet, the bitters are bitter.
- 1.5 oz. Angostura Bitters
- 1 oz. orgeat
- 0.75 oz. lemon juice
- 0.5 oz. rye whiskey
A stemmed cocktail glass with a lemon peel should be garnished with the lemon peel after the cocktail is shaken hard on ice for 10 to 12 seconds.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS
There are literally hundreds of bitters available, but if someone says "a dash of bitters," they mean Angostura Bitters. It is no secret that they are among the few essential ingredients behind the bar, just like Campari and Cointreau, with their mysterious ability to elevate any cocktail they are found in. This is all to say that you can use another brand of aromatic bitters if you want to, but I recommend sticking with Angostura.
A sweetened almond syrup made delicately floral with a few dashes of rose and/or orange flower water, Orgeat is sweetened with sugar. There are several ways to make it, usually by soaking toasted almonds in water for overnight and then sweetening and flavoring the drained liquid.
Alternatively, you can buy almond-flavored candy, which is even easier to do, but brands will vary quite wildly from nominally almond-flavored (Giffard) to extremely almond-flavored (Small Hands Foods, Liquid Alchemist). I don't have any strong advice here other than to advise not to cheap out. You can use any of those three, and I'm sure there are plenty of others, but my only advice is don't cheap out on it. You are using a full ounce of this, which means you do not want to get something cheap and bad.
There should be something sweet in the cocktail, so be sure it is not too soft. You should use rye whiskey that is 100 proof or higher, such as Rittenhouse, Pikesville, or Old Overholt Bonded, as the rye is what helps dry the cocktail out.
My preference would be to choose from a variety of dry, grainy ryes that will really stick the finish, such as the intense, almost chocolatey Old Potrero Straight Rye or Hudson Manhattan Rye with its dusty graininess. In conclusion, it is important to understand that it is just a half ounce of rye and is there to give the drink some structure, so you don't necessarily need to purchase a bottle just for this. You can use your favorite rye or even a bottle of bourbon, which will work fine but not quite as well.
As a result of the “sour” in the cocktail’s name, some people take it and make it like a Whiskey Sour, a cocktail in which egg white is added. This is not a terrible drink, but I don’t recommend it. It is important to know that egg white will help tame the drink. It will essentially shorten the peaks and lift the valleys and make the drink more enjoyable. The problem is that this cocktail is a firecracker. What do you want a smoother firecracker?