Nuts? Yes! A few months back I tried, and was wowed by, a peanut-y take on an Old Fashioned at a bar here in L.A. They had infused peanuts in bourbon and with a touch of honey had made magic. Nuts of all sorts make it into cocktails now. Some black walnut bitters here, the sweet almond flavor of orgeat there… circus peanuts. Your challenge is to utilize nuts (and since we’re NOT adhering to the strict rules of what are nuts, peanuts and walnuts both count) in any way you see fit to create a cocktail. Infusions, bitters, almond tinctures are all game. Amaretto, homemade nocino, Frangelico too. Go nuts!
In what seems to have been an uncountable number of personal attempts to follow-thru and finally get back into the MxMo routine, this finally appears to be a successful endeavor. In part, the task was made easier by the plethora of nuts we have in our pantry. In fact, just the other day my wife was complaining to me that we had so many varieties and 'they just sit there'. Alas, no longer...at least for the cashews.
Raw/roasted, salted/unsalted, plain/spiced, you name it...just about everybody loves cashews. And just a day removed from having finished a simple prep of cashew butter, the MxMo announcement post served to seal my cocktail fate. But how best to go about this integration of buttery cashews and spirits? A bit of contemplation led me to extra-aged rum, as follows...
8 oz Cruzan Extra-aged rum
3/4 c raw, unsalted cashews
Place cashews in a skillet over low/med flame, tossing occasionally until just lightly toasted and browned, 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool, place in plastic storage bag, and gently crush with rolling pin (or more appropriately, a muddler). Combine cashew and rum in airtight container, shake well to combine, and let sit at room temperature overnight. Strain rum using fine cheesecloth into a clean bottle.
2 oz cashew-infused rum*
3/4 oz Ramazzotti
1/4 oz Cointreau
2 dashes Regan's orange bitters
Combine all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir until very well chilled. Strain over a large cube of fresh ice in a old fashioned glass. Express oils from, and garnish with, a nice swath of orange zest.
This cocktail is definitely a unique offering, but the end result was actually rather pleasant...especially given the upfront richness of the cashew. It seemed to pair best with Ramazzotti, tho I did give it a spin with other amari such as Averna and Montenegro. The bitterness nicely counters the dark fruit and fatty sweetness of the cashew rum and notes of orange come thru just at the tail end. Lastly...the name. It 'stems' from 'Maior cajueiro do mundo', the world's largest cashew tree (roughly 8,000 square meters), said to have been planted in Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil in 1888. And with that, this MxMo theme of 'Aw Nuts!' is in the bag...thanks much to Elana over at her fantastic blog, Stir and Strain, and of course, be sure to check back here for the monthly roundup.