Time for a Drink: “Autonomous Cruise Control”

The warm season has long ended – with temperatures in the low one-digit centigrades above zero, you’d rather think about Toddies, B52s and similar drinks which are or get you warm.

As always running against the stream, here’s another fruity light drink. In a tall longdrink glass, add:

  • freshly pressed juice of two oranges
  • frehsly pressed juice of one lemon
  • dash of D.O.M Bénédictine

Stir in glass, top off with soda water, add ice cubes (unless it’s a few degrees above zero, in which case you can skip that last part).

Of course, the dominating components in this recipe are the juices. And let me tell you, as these are really what makes (or fails to make) this drink happen, “freshly pressed” is not optional here.

The holy pope of cocktail art himself, Charles Schumann, has this to say about juices (and I’m paraphrasing here): Lemon juice and orange juice are the two most important juices for cocktails, by a wide margin. They are contained in so many great drinks, and in such a vital function, that it’s never acceptable to have anything than “freshly pressed”. And “freshly pressed” means the fruits are cut up and pressed right before the drink is mixed.

There’s really not much to add to this statement. Out of curiosity, you may try to fix a drink (be it this one, or one of the classics which come to mind, e.g. any Sour or Collins, a Screwdriver or an Abbey Cocktail, first with some juice from the store, and then with some freshly pressed juice. The difference, let me give you the abstract right here, is much more radical than you would expect.

A last note on the addition of the D.O.M Bénédictine:  this is one of those odd liqueurs with a “secret recipe” and century-old monk tradition and whatnot. It’s taste is many-faced, rather complex, and as such, it’s not found in that many mixed drinks. For Autonomous Cruise Control, the key is the right amount for the dash, of course. What makes this harder is that lemons and oranges vary in size and also in intensity of taste quite a lot. However, if you’d like to find a good starting point for the “dash”, add two to three barspoons first. Stir, and see how it works. Interestingly, the D.O.M comes out more after the soda has been added, so a good process would be to add “below optimum”, add soda, taste again and if necessary add another few drops of D.O.M afterwards.

A sidenote about responsible drinking: this is a really-low-alcohol drink. Although the D.O.M has some 40% vol of alcohol, with the drink containing less than half a cl, the total amount of alcohol would be 2mg, which is less than a tenth of e.g. a pint of beer, and also less than a tenth than your standard cocktail which follows the “6cl of spirits” rule. On the other hand, drinking ten of those also makes this a small beer, and in legislation where DUI starts at zero, also one of those is too much. So even if this drink does contain only miniscule amounts of alcohol, it’s still not alcohol free – and sadly, its specific charme is not possible without the D.O.M.

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