It's official, mixologists have jumped the whale. So forget about going to the speakeasy in that place you can never figure out how to get into, and head to your local pub for an ice cold beer instead. Because nothing more good can come from the specialty cocktail trend. I say this, as an avid speciality cocktail fan.
The latest in trendy drinks is ambergris, or clotted cholesterol from a sperm whale. I'm sorry to make you gag while reading, but that is the secret ingredient (or not so secret, because you've gotta' brag about that craziness) in some nightclubs, and some writer's homes.
Since one doesn't just up and decide to mine sperm whales for their cholesterol one day, it's not surprising that this ingredient is actually something from another time. Apparently ambergris was used by doctors in medieval days to ward off the Black Plague. When that didn't work, someone got the idea to use it in a cocktail. Sound logic, all the way around. Not.
Also in fun sperm whale facts: Ambergris is used often in perfume. A use I'm much more comfortable with, personally. But it is that "umami" smell/taste that inspires the odd bartender to add it to his cocktail of choice.
A musky (gag, in a drink?) odor and taste from the sperm whale is appealing to some, but also expensive. As ambergris harvesting is basically when some lucky guy finds the clotted cholesterol washed up on the beach. No harm comes to the sperm whale in pursuit of this excretion, thank goodness.
To which I say, GROSS. I can't even write this without thinking that I wouldn't even want to touch sperm whale excretions, much less ingest it. Please, trendy drinkers, stop the madness. You're making me crave an Old-Fashioned to wash down the idea of this drink.
Buy if you must know how to make your own ambergris cocktail, here you go:
Recipe: Excellent Negus
• 1 bottle Port (tawny or vintage for best results)
• 2 ½ pints distilled water
• juice of 1 lemon
• 1 lemon peel rubbed off on caster sugar
• grated nutmeg and sugar to taste
• shave pea-sized chunk of ambergris or create a tincture of ambergris for extended use and easier storage (recipe below)
Mix ingredients. Serve warm.
Recipe: Tincture of Ambergris
Grate 5 grams of Ambergris (please keep in mind that this is approximately $125 worth of ambergris and you can make it weaker if you want). Add to 1 cup overproof spirit (more than 50 percent alcohol by volume). Put the ingredients in a secure jar and seal tightly.
Store the jar out in the open (in a window sill, warm and exposed to light is ideal) for one month. Agitate daily. Decant the clear portion and filter if necessary.
Would you try the ambergris cocktail?
Image via Strange Ones/Flickr