Tag Archives: Sesame-Seed Syrup

Art of the Cocktail 2013 – El Humo Grande

Wow, it’s been a while. To do a bit of catching up, about a month ago it was Art of the Cocktail here in Victoria. I went to a couple excellent workshops (“Cocktail Archaeology” with David Wondrich, and “Culinary Techniques” with Jeffrey Morgenthaler), had a bunch of delicious drink and food at the Grand Tasting, and, most relevant to this blog, entered the Best Home Bartender competition.

This was my 2nd year entering, and I’m pretty pleased with how things went. I was much more relaxed than last year – still nervous, but I felt reasonably confident in my performance. I think that came from a combination of being quite sure I had a delicious drink, and doing a lot of rehearsing. It also helped that there were a lot of familiar faces both in the audience and behind the bar (all the other competitors were friends – we’d all brainstormed, created, and tinkered with our entries as a group).

My drink came in a very close 2nd place. One place I lost points was that my drink was a little too diluted. When I make it at home it’s with ice right from the freezer, but the ice at the competition had been sitting out and was therefore pretty wet, and I didn’t think to factor that into my planning. Something to keep in mind for next year.

Anyway, the drink I entered, El Humo Grande, is a variation on a drink I’ve posted on here before – the Margarita de Ajonjoli.

El Humo Grande
35ml reposado tequila
20ml sesame-seed syrup
15ml lime juice
Small piece of chipotle pepper
Shake well with ice. Double strain over ice in a Margarita glass. Garnish with a wheel of lime.

AotC2013
Photo Credit: Michael Beach

Sesame Syrup 2.0

I made a new batch of sesame-seed syrup last night using a much simpler method (no blender and simpler straining).

Sesame-Seed Syrup
2 cups raw sesame seeds
2 cups water
1 cup (approx.) sugar

  1. Spread the sesame seeds on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes at 350° F, mixing occasionally, until lightly toasted.
  2. Mix the seeds and water in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh strainer (no cheesecloth needed!). This should yield about a cup of liquid. Mix the liquid, while still warm, with an equal amount of sugar and stir to dissolve. Bottle and keep refrigerated.

For my favourite recipe using this syrup, see the Margarita de Ajonjolí.

Sesame Cocktail

Sesame Cocktail

Sesame
1½ ozs. light rum
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. sesame-seed syrup (ajonjoli)
Shake well with ice. Strain into prechilled cocktail glass. […] A rummy and offbeat drink.

For this recipe I used Bacardi and homemade sesame-seed syrup (recipe below). The book says that the syrup is available in stores featuring Caribbean products, but I couldn’t find any and it didn’t seem too tricky to figure out a recipe for.

From the moment I discovered this recipe I’ve been itching to try it. Sesame-seed syrup struck me as a really interesting ingredient with a lot of potential, so it seemed strange that it is only found in 2 recipes in the Playboy Host & Bar Book.

I’ll say this for the Sesame, it’s well balanced. It also has a nice creamy texture from the sesame-seed syrup. But other than that it’s surprisingly plain. The flavours play so well together that it loses any distinctiveness. There’s a hint of sesame in the finish, but the ingredient isn’t showcased at all. It’s not a drink I’d make again by choice.

I’ve only found this recipe in 2 places: the PH&BB and CocktailDB (plus sites that pull recipes from CocktailDB). The recipes in both places are identical, so it is possible the recipe originated in the PH&BB. If anyone knows of an earlier citation for this drink, please let me know in the comments.

I decided to play with the sesame syrup some and see if I could improve on the original recipe somewhat. I think I succeded with the Margarita de Ajonjolí (I love it, at the very least).

Margarita de Ajonjoli

Margarita de Ajonjolí (Sesame Margarita)
50ml gold tequila
30ml sesame-seed syrup
20ml lime juice
Shake well with ice. Strain over ice in a Margarita glass.

The smokiness of the tequila really shines in this, and the sesame flavour stands up for itself much better than in the Sesame Cocktail.

Sesame-Seed Syrup
1½ c. sesame seeds
3 c. warm water
1½ c. sugar
Lightly brown the seeds in a frying pan. Allow the seeds to soak in water for 4 hours. Grind the seeds and water in a blender. Strain. Heat over medium heat and add sugar. Stir until dissolved.

I used a basic sesame milk recipe I found online and then sweetened it, so this is essentially a horchata (orgeat). I did find this difficult to strain effectively, so for my next batch I’ll try skipping the blender entirely, increasing the amount of seeds, boiling them in the water, and then straining the whole seeds out.

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For anyone interested in trying some other sesame-based cocktails, check out the Domo Arigato at The Cocktail Virgin Slut, and Tess Posthumus’ La Ninja.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.