Despite the idiom that is meant to admonish, I find there is value in ‘reinventing the wheel’ when it comes to cocktails. A classic recipe can provide a great framework to inspire new ideas and experimentations.
Take the Longship, for example. The basic concept is that of a Sidecar, but with aquavit. It also bears close resemblance to the Sailor Mercury, another aquavit-based cocktail with similarities to a Sidecar. Rather than the floral flavors of the Parfait Amour, however, this drink utilizes the intense and unique aromatics of kaffir limes. (If you can find the kaffir limes, making the tincture is quite simple; see below.)
This recipe is tailored to my palate, and I tend to favor cocktails that are spirit-forward (i.e., boozy) and not too sweet. Since we’re using a classic recipe as framework, it’s pretty easy to adjust for your own tastes. Want a cocktail that focuses less on the base spirit, and is a bit sweeter? Take the the aquavit down to 1.75 or 1.5 oz, and add a spoonful or three of simple syrup — tweaking proportions like this can help you tailor cocktail recipes to the liking of you and your friends.
2 oz – aquavit
.5 oz – triple sec
.25 oz – fresh lime juice
kaffir lime tincture
Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a coupe glass. Top with a few drops of kaffir lime tincture, and garnish with an orange boat & brandied cherry.
Kaffir lime tincture – take the leaves and/or zest of 2 kaffir limes, and place into a small jar. Cover with a high-proof, neutral spirit — Everclear, Spiritus, or 100-proof vodka — and seal the jar, storing out of the light for 1-2 weeks. Shake daily, and start checking the tincture after the first week. Once ready, strain out the solids — voila, you have a tincture.