Here it is, the day has finally come that I’m writing about a cocktail that isn’t primarily made of gin or whiskey! I know, you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your rolly chairs (or Eames furniture – because you’re fancy).
The Wild Rose is summer in a glass. It’s citrusy, fruity, and fresh – without being overly sweet. The name was derived from a couple things. First, little known fact: Strawberries are actually part of the rose family. For that, and a Nick Cave song, this cocktail is named The Wild Rose.
This is my favorite time of year, it’s practically a bartender’s paradise. In a few weeks, I’ll start to get bags of fresh herbs from regulars along with cartons of fresh berries and cherries from local farms. There are many kinds of bartenders. Some get blissfully lost in mixing spirits, which is easy to do when you live in a state that doesn’t control the liquor. Others pride themselves on mixing perfectly made classics – which I love too. Unfortunately, I was born a bartender in a barren land, (ehem). Because we have such limited access to spirits, I learned early on that I can deal with what I’m given and find the complexity and creativity I crave in bar-tending through shrubs, garnishes, and syrups, the last two of which are incorporated into this drink.
Tequila – Throughout the year, there are clear trends with what spirits sell more. Whiskey is flying in winter, but the warmer months are enlivened by rum, gin, and in this case – tequila. I know what you’re thinking, right now you’ve just had a flashback to shots of tequila, ending in late night nachos or nights out dancing your cute little tush off. In this case, tequila makes this cocktail just a little dangerous. Chimayo Blanco isn’t the fanciest of tequilas, but it sure isn’t you’re typical well either. It isn’t one that you’d sip down in a flash. It’s soft, well rounded, and just spicy enough to give you the kick you’d want with the sweetness of agave that’ll keep you wanting more. It’s perfect for this cocktail because with all of the other flavors incorporated, it doesn’t overpower.
Aperol – Next, we have Aperol. It’s a spirit I’ve used before in recipes published on this site, mainly because it works so darn well in cocktails. Chimayo has a bit of green apple flavor in it, so I think that it goes very nicely with Aperol, which has a little orange going on. Together, they’re a match made in citrus heaven.
Lime Juice – To add a little acidity to the drink, some fresh lime juice is called for. Something tart to bring everything together, and provide the much needed vitamin C we all need after a long winter.
Strawberry Serrano Syrup – For this drink, I made a strawberry serrano syrup. It’s simple to make, and fairly cheap. (I’ve included the recipe below.) The syrup itself is delicious.Before you even take a taste, you smell vibrant fresh strawberries. With a sip, your mouth is coated in a smooth, sweet blanket of strawberry. Right when you’re thinking, “man, strawberries are delicious”, you’re tapped on the shoulder by a spicy friend – serrano. Serrano peppers are difficult to use in cocktails. They don’t have the sweetness of bell or habanero peppers, so all you’re left with is spice. With these two very opposing flavors, the syrup lands right in the middle.
This is all shaken, and poured over crushed ice and garnished with a mint bouquet. Now you have an icy, boozy glass of summertime in front of you. It’s easy enough to make that I could see this as a necessary cocktail for parties and bbq’s. Not to mention beautiful, I think this cocktail would suit any palate.
The Wild Rose
- 2 oz blanco tequila (Chimayo Blanco)
- 1 oz Strawberry Serrano Syrup (more or less, depending on how spicy/sweet you prefer)
- .75 oz Aperol
- .50 oz Lime
Before making the cocktail, crush ice using a Lewis Bag and mallet. Scoop the crushed ice into a double Old Fashioned glass. Make sure you over fill the glass, leaving a heap above rim. Combine all ingredients into a shaker, shake, and double strain your cocktail into the glass. Using several (6-10) stems of fresh mint, make a bouquet of mint and push into the side of the glass. Add a thick, short straw… and boom – Wild Rose!
Strawberry Serrano Syrup
- ½ pound fresh strawberries cut in half
- 3 serrano peppers, sliced into small pieces. (You can add more or less, depending on how much spice you want.)
- 2 cups water
Place strawberries and peppers into a saucepan and muddle gently. Add water, and place on medium heat. Bring to a boil. After 7 minutes of boiling lower to simmer for 3 minutes. Using a shinoa or tami, strain out juice into a measuring cup. Use a rubber spatula to press the fruit against the strainer to insure the maximum amount of flavor. Mix equal parts of sugar in, allowing sugar to dissolve. (For example, if your mixture produces 2 cups, mix in 2 cups sugar.) Allow to cool, and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
About the Author: Ashley R. is the Head Bartender and Manager at Saint Lawrence Gridiron in Boise, Idaho. She’s known for challenging traditional expectations regarding what a cocktail should be, and having an intuitive understanding of the way flavors interact. She’s currently on a mission to trick her bourbon drinking boss into drinking gin. We’ll keep you posted on that.