Fun fact about me: I LOVE cilantro. I am probably one of the few people that can actually make my way through an entire bushel of cilantro before it turns to mush in the crisper. I put it in everything: lunch, dinner, smoothies and even cocktails.
I have to credit the fine folks at El Camino for first introducing me to the unexpected pairing of cilantro and alcohol. Their cocktail The Way mixes cilantro, tequila, triple sec, chilies, agave nectar, bitters and grilled pineapple into one perfect concoction. Cilantro is a sublime counterpoint to anything spicy which is why it works so well with the chilies in The Way and often accents zippy dishes from Indian and Thai cuisines.
In his massively ambitious restaurant cookbook Nopi, Yotam Ottolenghi applies this combination of cilantro and spice in a Middle Eastern interpretation. The Coriander and Ginger Martini is one of the most achievable recipes in the book, suitable for home bartenders of all skill levels.
You can whip this up in no time and welcome your guests or treat yourself with a perfectly balanced cocktail.
A couple of tasting notes:
- If you’re one of those poor souls for whom cilantro tastes like soap bubbles, I’m sorry for your loss, and please go ahead and pass this recipe right on by.
- If you can’t handle a ginger shot or stomach the pickled ginger that comes with your sushi roll, you might want to throttle back on the amount of ginger you use in the syrup.
- 1 1/4 oz ginger syrup
- 3 1/2 oz vodka
- 1 3/4 oz lime juice
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted
- 10 cilantro leaves
- 3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup superfine sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 pieces crystallized ginger, for garnish
Place the ginger syrup in a cocktail shaker, along with all remaining ingredients and plenty of cubed ice. Shake hard for about 20 seconds, then double-strain (through a Hawthorne strainer and into a fine-mesh sieve) into two prechilled martini glasses. Garnish with a piece of crystallized ginger. Serve at once.
To make the ginger syrup, place the ginger, sugar and water in a blender. Blitz for about 45 seconds, until fully combined. You will make about 1 1/4 cups of syrup, which can be kept in the fridge, or frozen, for future use.
Recipe from: Ottolenghi, Yotam and Ramael Scully. Nopi. Appetite, 2015.