Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mixology Monday XXXIV: Mace Finds Its Place in This Spiced Cocktail

The red aril of the nutmeg, when ground, makes mace.

Mace is a beauty of a spice. It can enhance the somewhat dull flavor of a doughnut, or add a little extra zing to a pound cake. But in a cocktail, the spice alone is rarely used. Mace tastes a little like nutmeg, and its similarities to nutmeg are easily understood: Mace is the ground aril, or seed coating, that surrounds the nutmeg, its orange to red shiny tentacles putting in mind science fiction images of incubating aliens.

Before committing to mace, do a side-by-side taste test with nutmeg and you’ll experience overall differences in piquancy when it first hits your tongue, and also in the finish as the spices linger. Nutmeg is warmer, mellower, rounder, and marries well with other like spices such as cinnamon and clove. Mace is spikier, a little more pungent, and can be challenging to those tasters and supertasters who prefer less drama on their palates.

The Fascist, so named because it contains spirits from three countries with a history of dictators (we’re not exactly politically correct here), exudes spicy fruit and nut aromas, and tastes like late fall and early winter. The toasty sweet hazelnut from the Frangelico blends well with the mace, and mixed with the bold German Asbach brandy and the sweet Anjou pear puree, makes for a drink that shares the essence of spiced cake or streusel. The Fascist may contain a lot of ingredients, but once you top one off with a dash of otherworldy mace, the sips may turn into gulps.

The Fascist
(created by Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz; named by Joe McCarthy for our Name That Cocktail Contest)

1 ounce pear puree (Anjou suggested, but you can use store-bought if you don’t have a juicer or blender)
1 ounce brandy (Asbach suggested)
3/4 ounce vodka (Smirnoff suggested)
1/2 ounce pear liqueur (American Fruits suggested)
1/4 ounce Frangelico (Italian hazelnut liqueur)
ground mace
pear slice, for garnish

In a blender or juicer, puree a pear, seeded but not peeled (half a pear usually works per cocktail). In a shaker half-filled with ice, add the puree and the spirits. Shake for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with pear slice, sprinkle with mace (a little goes a long way).

Text by Paul Zablocki

Photo of The Fascist by Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz