On my 21st birthday, when the manager at Jimmy’s on the Mall, in Burlington, MA – the restaurant I worked at – asked if I wanted to train on the bar I instantly went into a vivid daydream of flipping bottles like Tom Cruise’s Brian Flanagan character in in Cocktail, being the center of attention to all the beautiful ladies looking for their ideal man, and the person of awe to all the guys who want to be cool like me. I snapped back to reality when one of the restaurant regular patrons – a kindly 86 year woman – asked what the daily rice pilaf special was.
No, Jimmy’s on the Mall was no “Cocktails and Dreams”, and Elisabeth Shue was no where to be seen, but Jimmy’s – specifically behind the bar – was the birthplace for where I began learning and understanding tastes and how to mix flavors to achieve something new and exciting for the palate.
It’s now years later, but the time behind the bar – at Jimmy’s and then at Fire & Ice in Harvard Square – really tought me to think differently about flavor; and how subjective each person’s taste can be. I would have people approach me asking for a drink that was new and something they’ve never had before or a twist on a non-drink flavor. For many bartenders, especially busy “in the weeds” ones – this type of request would be a bother, and they often reply with a rehearsed: “How about a Stoli Raspberry and Sprite, with a splash of pineapple? – You’ll love it!” For me, the requests are a fun challenge.
My friend Jeremy likes to throw this challenge at me fairly frequently (He’s also the one who keeps asking me to create my own drink recipe book, to which my response is always, “Someday, maybe.” ) and this week he called asking me to come up with a shot that would taste like French Toast. I thought for a moment, and off the top of my head threw out rum, baileys, butterscotch schnapps, with a drop of maple syrup plunked down the middle and fresh ground nutmeg on top. Over the next day though, I thought more about the recipe and decided that although the above ingredients would make for a great shot at the bar, my days of shooting random alcoholic concoctions are long gone, and if I’m going to drink anything with a kick, I want it to be something I can enjoy for more than a sip (or 2 for the cautious drinkers), and since we are now entering the holiday season, eggnog had to be involved.
So give it a try and tell me if you like it.
French Toast Martini
- 1 oz Rum (I used Mount Gay, which I like for its caramel color and flavor, but you could also Barcardi or Cruzan. There is also a fantastic Massachusetts-based rum distiller whose rum I had at CHIVE Sustainable Event & Design Catering‘s Fire and Flannel Fall event, but I forget their name. I’ll post an update when I remember it – their rum was sooo good!)
- 1/2 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
- 1/4 oz Butterscotch schnapps
- 1/4 oz Dark rum (I used Meyers Jamaican rum)
- 4 oz eggnog (I used Horizon Dairy organic lite egg nog)
- 1-2 tsp Maple syrup
- Freshly ground mix of nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar (go easy on the sugar! I also added a little chili powder because I like to cook French Toast with a little kick)
- Prepare the glass by dipping the rim in the maple syrup, and then onto a plate of the ground mix to coat the rim and prevent the syrup from running down the outside of the glass. Turn the glass right-side-up and add a little maple syrup to the bottom of it.
- Shake the drink ingredients in a shaker with ice, and then strain (or serve with ice – as I prefer) into a 10oz glass.
- Serve with a cinnamon stick garnish, whip cream, and a little fresh nutmeg and cinnamon.
For added thought - When I make real French Toast, I will sometimes add a little orange zest to the top of the bread while cooking it, and so I made a second drink and added a drop of Cointreau giving a nice burst of flavor and sweetness. If you choose to do this though, go easy on the Cointreau – a little goes go a long way!