During my 13 years living in the United States, I acquired a taste for wine. That became an obsession and a subject of study, a passion. I then moved to Cartagena, Colombia, a beautiful place where wine was just starting to make an appearance. At much higher prices (due to taxes) and because of the heat and humidity, wine became less attainable. There started my search for the perfect drink.
Aguardiente (Colombian anise brandy) also known as firewater was always too harsh and beer never seemed cold enough in Cartagena. Due to its heaviness, I could never get through a full beer without it getting warm. Though definitely a great drink during certain occasions, more formal events (which I frequented) also required a bit more finesse. There started my search for the perfect cocktail.
After overpaying for too many bad cocktails, a friend of mine took me to a restaurant she was the manager at, in a competing hotel from where I was working at the time. I really wanted to dislike it. Roosevelt, the beverage director at the property was the person responsible for my liking, both that restaurant, and gin. As one of the very few mixologists in the city, he made me a cocktail with gin, tonic, smoked rosemary and champagne that made me discover gin. However, it was his ability to convince me to drink, right when I was getting off a 21-day detox that made me really fall in love with this spirit.
Rosemary Fizz:20z Gin
1ts Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 ts fresh lemon juice
1 egg white (pasteurized)
Sprig of Rosemary and a lemon slice for garnish
To smoke the rosemary: light a sprig with a match and quickly blow it out, place in the glass and cover while preparing the drink. This will create the smoke flavor within the cocktail glass.
Combine gin, simple syrup, lemon juice and egg white in shaker with crushed ice and shake well. Strain into the smoked glass and top with champagne. Serve with Lemon and Rosemary garnish.
As I told him about my detox, he convinced me to try a drink composed of ingredients mostly allowed in my detox. The gin, tonic, hibiscus tea, and chia seed mix was one that sounded weird. In his attempt to keep up with the trends and embrace chia and hibiscus, he created what he claimed to be a “healthier” cocktail. This gelatinous, crunchy, cold, “martini” with a hint of sweetness introduced me to one of the few perfect Cartagena cocktails. It was topped only by the most recent cocktail of a new destination: the Kha Chili I had in Miami, consists of: gin, galangal syrup, cilantro and thai bird chili.