Seville Cocktail: There is a very fine distinction between a good stiff belt and a cocktail worthy of that moment of pause. That pause that comes just before you pick up the stem, close your eyes and lift the glass to your lips. That brief, unconscious pause allows for the inhalation of the electric current that floats right above or sits right on top the surface of a perfectly mixed beauty.
A proper cocktail is not so much about tying one on. Though the quality and content of the alcohol is a vital element in its success. Cocktails are meant to amplify a moment. Either by ritualistically marking the end of the workday or as a social lubricant designed to loosen your loquaciousness or awaken your appetite.
In my opinion, these are the very best sorts of cocktails. They are bracing and bold, but that doesn’t mean heavy-handed. Balance and proportion are the elements that elevate.
However, good stiff belts and proper cocktails are not the only liqurious libations to pass my palate. There is room for other sorts of alcoholic beverages too. Many of these are served over rocks, but they can also be shaken, stirred or strained. They can even be served in a proper cocktail glass.
Now I admit I have trouble classifying these sorts of drinks as proper cocktails no matter how elegant the stem. But that does not mean they don’t have their time and place. These are typically drinks with many versions and sub-versions too. They include: daiquiris, margaritas, Pimm’s cup, Moscow mule, screwdriver.… the list goes on and on. These are often thirsted quenchers first and cocktails second. Sometimes they are lighter friendlier adaptations of classics; as the Brooklyn or the Bronx is to the Manhattan.
My theory is these sorts of adaptations are continually morphing because some bartender somewhere is trying to take a drink that was designed to be light and refreshing and change the ratios to make the concoction feel more like a proper cocktail. But why bother? There is room in the cocktail world for all kinds of tipplers. Because let’s face it no amount of tinkering will make an action hero out of Leonardo DiCaprio.
Today I have the Leonardo DiCaprio of cocktails. It’s called the Seville cocktail, and like Mr. DiCaprio, it’s perfect as it is. It’s made with gin, which is a good start if this drink cared to be considered a proper cocktail. But this cocktail chose a different path to success. It is made bright and festive with a bit of sherry and some lemon juice. But the thing that really distinguishes this drink is the orange juice. Now you can use any sort of orange juice, well any sort of fresh squeezed orange juice. But if you can get your hands on some sour oranges– all the better.
Now sour oranges (Citrus aurantium) are also known as bitter oranges, bigarade oranges, marmalade oranges, and Seville oranges. Notice that the name of this cocktail and this orange seem eerily similar? That’s why I am encouraging you to seek the out sour oranges. But the truth is they are not so easy to find.
Whenever I am faced with a fruit decision I always google David Karp. In this instance, he wrote an informative article all about sour oranges for the LA Times. It seems there is a grove here in California working hard to make this orange more readily available. This is great news. But I also noticed something else.
I had just assumed that this cocktail and these oranges were named after the Spanish town of Seville. It’s a great citrus area and well, I just assumed that was the case. But David is reporting from Seville, California. Because that is where this grove of sour oranges is making its comeback. Do you suppose the orange and the drink were always a California concoction? Or is it more likely they named a whole town in California after a Spanish orange? Hmmm, food for thought.
In any case, I did not have to travel out of town or out of the country to get my hands on sour oranges. There is a whole tree of them growing in my neighbor’s yard. Fortunately for me, it’s in their front yard. You know me and urban foraging…
But back to my cocktail. I consider it one of those “other cocktails” not really in the good stiff belt or proper cocktail categories. In fact, I don’t really see the Seville as a bracer designed for embracing the evening. But when the weather is warm, and your most elegant friends pop over on a Sunday afternoon– I do believe that the Seville makes a rather lovely midday swelter-tamer. It’s delightfully clean, simple, and very, very refreshing.
- 1 1⁄2 oz Hendricks gin
- 1⁄2 oz sherry
- 1⁄2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice (sour Sevilles if possible)
- 1⁄2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 t sugar, to taste according to your oranges
Shake all the ingredients vigorously with cracked ice. Strain into a stemmed cocktail glass. Serve.