The Fig Old-Fashioned

The ex-boyfriend of an ex-friend of mine, a guy who last I heard is now an ex-actor, played the cunnilinguistic Mr. Pussy on an episode of Sex and the City. His audition for the part, I remember hearing at the time, entailed eating (out?) a fig with oral, in flagrante delicto brio.

But that's neither here or there. I actually want to talk about figs today because, as I'm hoping at least a few of you noticed over the weekend, I posted on this blog's Facebook page that I was playing with a recipe I'd found at The Kitchn for a Fig Old-Fashioned.  It caught my attention because I happen to have some figs on hand in a very-delicious-and-not-at-all-derelict way. Back in August my friend Jackie visited us and, upon spotting figs at the Jean-Talon Market, declared herself a huge fan and promptly purchased some. Most of them wound up becoming the property of The Five O'Clock Cocktail Blog (certain restrictions apply), and the PhoBlograpHusband, as he is wont to do, immediately set about brandying them.

You brandy, jar up and refrigerate a fruit like a fig or a cherry (which we use in place of maraschino), it's gonna last you a looong time. The one I chose for this cocktail was still springy and held its shape perfectly. And when I muddled it with maple syrup (The Kitchn says to use "Grade B, if you can find it." Pshaw, in Canada there's no maple grading because EVERYTHING IS AWESOME), I could hear the fig seeds crunching, exactly the way they do when you bite down on a Fig Newton. (And now you pretty much know every fig reference life has provided me so far: Newtons, Jackie visiting, Mr. Pussy. Truth be told I don't think about figs much.)

Also truth be told: I wasn't entirely sure if I'd like, or even be able to palate, this recipe. Mostly because of the balsamic vinegar. I'm definitely a fan of vinegar in cocktails, it's just that one whole teaspoon of balsamic straight up seemed like it would be way too much. The only time I'd ever used unadulterated balsamic for a cocktail was to spatter some Pollock-style atop an egg-white-foamy concoction, more for effect than taste.

But the verdict is: This cocktail rocks! Its overall sweetness does mirror that of a classic Old-Fashioned, but I actually think it's way more complex in its start-to-finish flavor profile. And yet, while also multifaceted, the ingredients coalesce very well;  you really won't taste the vinegar at all, although I'm sure it's in there doing something essential to bridge everything together.

The Fig Old-Fashioned

(Adapted slightly from The Kitchn)

1 1/2 ounces Jim Bean Black bourbon

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 ounce "Grade-B-if-you-can-find-it" maple syrup

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 California black mission fig

Orange peel, to garnish (optional)

Remove the fig's stem and cut it into quarters. Put fig pieces in the bottom of a shaker. Add maple syrup and muddle until you've got a paste. Add bourbon, orange juice and vinegar, fill shaker with ice, and shake vigorously. Double-strain (see Tasting Notes) into an ice-filled highball glass.

Tasting Notes

Nitpick alert! The Kitchn says to do your muddling in a mixing glass, but then add the rest of your ingredients to said mixing glass before filling it with ice and shaking. Dear Kitchn, I wish my money grew on fair-traded, sustainably harvested, organic potted trees, but since it doesn't, I don't want to risk shaking my 'spensive mixing glass -- nay, chalice (emphasis mine, as is the decision to ostentatiously deem it a "chalice")Might I suggest sticking with a shaker throughout?

Double straining: Basically, get that liquid to pass through two forms of strainer on its way into the glass. Your second strain is probably going to come via a wire mesh tea strainer, which you'll perch just atop your cocktail glass. Your preliminary level of straining can come from a Hawthorne strainer or the built-in strainer located in the cap of a cobbler shaker.

I added the orange peel. Brings out the bouquet-ish quality of the drink. Mr. Pussy.

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