Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Perfectly Seasonal Pomegranate Sazerac

I may never know when to give a cocktail a new name.  Seems like there are a hundreds of thousands of cocktail recipes, and that some of them are only minimally different from each other.  For example, the Martini and the Gibson are kissin' cousins, but you'd never know it from their names, which make them sound worlds apart. At what point is a cocktail sufficiently different from its inspiration as to merit a new name altogether?

Modern mixology, as a para-culinary discipline, is relatively new, but it is here to stay. A couple hundred years ago the first proper cocktails were developed and since then the evolution has taken us to a place where all ingredients are fair game, so long as they are digestible. Bartenders, Liquor Chefs, Mixologists, Mixtresses, Intoxicologists - whatever we call ourselves, we are linked together in a long chain of like-minded artisans working to entertain the palates of our grateful audience.  However, like our brothers and sisters in the back of the house, we know we don't really own our work. We make recipes; we don't own them. We expect that others will modify our work for their enjoyment, and we are generally flattered when our drink shows up in other bars.

So the service offered by CocktailRight seems a little counter-intuitive. For $25, they will register your cocktail and send you a certificate of ownership, suitable for framing.  Will it offer legal protection against another venue's serving your creation? This has not yet been tested, and it would be sort of depressing if it were.

At the same time, I never want to take credit for another person's work. Before announcing a cocktail as my original creation, I search for it online. This only guarantees that I don't find it online. It doesn't guarantee that some gorgeous little bar in Maine or Malibu isn't already serving what I think I created. A Cosmopolitan, a Metropolitan, a Neapolitan: same, but different... different, but the same.

In any case, I feel a twinge of guilt giving a new name to what is, in essence, a variation. Sometimes what is called for is a variation on a name, for a variation on a drink.  In this spirit, I give you the Pomegranate Sazerac.
Pomegranate Sazerac

1 oz. Kinnickinnic Whisky
1 oz. PAMA pomegranate liqueur
5 drops Bittercube Cherry Bark/Vanilla bitters
3 drops Bittercube Jamaican #2 bitters
.25 oz. Pernod
Rinse a cocktail glass with Pernod
Combine and shake all other ingredients
and strain into prepared glass

The thing of it is, it is sufficiently different from a Sazerac that using Sazerac in the name could be disputed, but similar enough that not to acknowledge its lineage feels dishonest. So I find myself at a crossroads again, with no guidepost but my own conscience. In any case, it is a pretty little thing, and quite delicious!

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