—THE DRINKS CABINET AUGUST—
New cocktail columnist Guy Mazuch, head bar tender at the Zetter Townhouse, talks about his favourite summer ingredient.
The summer brings with it lots of ingredients to get excited about, however, one that really stands out as a treasure to me, the unsung hero of summery cocktails, the lemon. Particularly the Amalfi lemon. As a child, in Campania, I would sit in the heat of the summer sun eating enormous fragrant lemons as if they were oranges, savouring the refreshment the acidity bought with it. Having these memories has imprinted a lifelong adoration of this ugly, pimpled fruit.
Amalfi lemons grow along Italy’s south-west coast on lemon groves that have been in the same families for generations. They grow substantially larger than the varieties we are used to and develop into far sweeter fruit. The real beauty of the Amalfi lemon is, however, only skin deep. The zest is what makes the Amalfi lemon so special, secreting an intoxicating perfume. A small shift in the aroma compounds (terpenes) differentiates it from the typical lemon, smelling the way lemons are truly supposed to smell.
So, you may be asking “how to get the lemon groves of Amalfi into my glass?”. Firstly, these lemons become widely available during this season at Italian markets, greengrocers and sometimes even supermarkets. Next, I would give you a recipe for a limoncello that would sit in your cupboard until the lid is encrusted in sugar and all of the appeal is lost. I’m not going to do that, instead the recipe for a sherbet (oleo sacchurum). Probably the most versatile recipe you could have in your cocktail arsenal.
Mix 50g of Amalfi lemon zest into 500g of caster sugar. Leave this overnight in order to draw the oils out of the zest. In the morning add 400ml of Amalfi lemon juice to the sugar and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Strain out all of the lemon zest and store in the fridge.
Use your sherbet as a sugar substitute in any of your ‘sour’ style cocktails. We like to use it as a sweetening agent for our homemade lemonades. The sherbert has a tremendous shelf life and try it out with other fruits (peach, strawberry, grapefruit etc.)