I wasn’t expecting to write about purple again so soon, but then some of it fell out of the sky.
We had a torrential storm, with enough rain that there was a short-lived stream in the back yard. Some of the rain apparently caught purple migrating across the sky and brought it down too, and it all flowed into one place before the water subsided and it settled into a sticky, contiguous patch.
Though it is a different organism, it evokes a strangely-colored algal bloom. Like algal blooms, these purple spores can cause interesting and sometimes harmful effects in animals that consume them. Properly processed, however, and unlike any algae that I know of, they can be infused with spirits into a sweet liqueur, which is the main ingredient in a unique cocktail.
Purple spore liqueur
- Gather spores.
- Submerge the spores in water and allow it to evaporate.
- Rinse the resulting mass carefully in cold water (don’t let the water break it apart).
- Pour your spirit of choice into a large container, and add the mass of spores. Start with about one cup of purple and a 750 ml bottle of vodka, and adjust subsequent batches to taste.
- Infuse for at least four days, shaking vigorously at least once per day. This is necessary for the ethanol in your spirit to kill symbiotic bacteria which are beneficial to the spore but harmful to humans.
In my batch, the rain had already gathered the spores and evaporated, which saved me some work. However, it also meant that the mass of spores contained impurities that I couldn’t filter out which made their way into the final cocktail. The result was a moist, earthy, almost mushroom flavor layered on top of the cloying sweetness of the spore.
You can see the result in the grayer purple of the drink, as well as the bright green leaves that evaded my filter and ultimately came to float on top.
New world monarch cocktail
- 1.5 oz purple spore liqueur
- 0.75 oz scotch whisky or mezcal
- 0.25 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 pinch salt1
- Combine the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, and add ice.
- Shake vigorously for at least 60 seconds. A long shake time is critical for the proper texture, which should emulsify the oils from the congealed spores and distribute them evenly in the drink. If the drink doesn’t shimmer for about 5 seconds after it is poured, you didn’t shake long enough.
- Pour into a Nick and Nora glass.
Personally, I like the resulting ice crystals that persist for just the first few sips, but some prefer to let the texture stand on its own. You can instead add 0.5 oz of cold water to the drink and freeze it for 45 minutes, and then shake without ice to emulsify before pouring.
The very best option is depleted salt – that is, salt from a binding circle after the circle is broken. While modern test kitchens tend to avoid this based on guidelines from the CDC and FDA, my research and personal experience suggest it is perfectly safe. ↩︎