When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons…
I never really considered how the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” might apply to bartending. But a few weeks ago, while visiting our son and daughter-in-law, we came home from an afternoon of shopping (which happened to include a trip to the liquor store) and, as I laid out the ingredients to make my classic Lemon Drops, I realized – horror of horrors – that I’d forgotten to buy lemons! Fortunately, the Hostess talked me back down off the window ledge and suggested that, rather than scrap the Lemon Drops altogether, I could improvise and try using some of the tangerines that were in a bowl nearby. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t work (yeah, I sometimes don’t roll with change very well) but I went for it anyway…and damn if we didn’t end up inventing a pretty decent cocktail!
I did have some justification for my hesitation at altering my usual recipe. What makes a Lemon Drop so good is the freshly-squeezed lemon juice. The lemon gives the cocktail a nice tart bite that complements the sweetness of the Cointreau and the lemonade. I find tangerines to be more sweet than tart so was concerned that they wouldn’t measure up as a substitute for lemons. To give them a fighting chance, I tried squeezing in an entire tangerine where I’d normally only use half of a lemon. Wintertime tangerines (often sold as “Clementines” or “Cuties”) are seedless and super-juicy, and they gave the cocktail a rich orangey color along with a smooth and refreshing flavor that, surprisingly, was the perfect balance between sweet and sour. I’m declaring the recipe a success!
So, in addition to being change-averse, I’m also not very creative when it comes to naming things. The Hostess has suggested “Tangerini,” but since my goal hadn’t been to highlight the tangerine’s flavor (I’ll attempt that soon with a tangerine martini, and will report on it in a future post), I’m calling this the Tangerine Lemon Drop. Clever, huh?