I Left My Heart in Fizzy Pisco
It’s easy to go a bit mad considering mandarins. Clearly pulling apart tangerines from clementines from trademarked brands like Ojai Pixies and Cuties… well, it’s certainly not as easy as pulling apart the luscious segments from these oblate wonders of the citrus world. Actually, telling them apart has something to do with the roughness of the skin, and, of course, genetic crosses you’d have to be a botanist to bother about. But the best thing is many of us locally have a tangerine tree of some sort or know someone who does who is probably offering you fruit. Say thanks, and get cracking on this cocktail.
The terrific tangerine taste trick is that it brings the zip and zest of orange but adds something sweeter without being sweet. Tangerines are also more floral; you can still smell the blossoms on the fruit, it seems. It’s everything one might want in a flavor on a spring day, as vivid and electric as a Santa Barbara blue sky. That’s why it anchors this refreshing and dreamy Oh My Darling Cocktail, which I give you the permission to make even without official clementines.
Yes, the drink is a gussied-up Pisco Sour, but that tangerine—and a bit of lemon juice, too—make for a much more complex palate than the usual lime juice. The pride of Peru, Pisco is a grape-based spirit that is aged in stainless steel or glass, not oak, so think of it as a clear brandy. It, too, has floral and citrusy notes, so it adds exponentially to the drink’s attraction. Plus, if you use Pisco Portón, you get to show off the handsome bottle with the cutout to a painting of the Hacienda la Caravedo, where it’s made, on the inside.
The way to think of the Aperol and simple syrup is as best buds who make their friends even more themselves. Sticky and bitter, the Aperol gooses the acids to help make your mouth water for more. The simple syrup layers on the sweet of the fruit, expanding the complete cocktail in the other direction. Deliciousness is about perfect tension, after all.
Then, for texture, there’s the egg white. If you’ve got backyard chickens, this is particularly a treat, but we can get such great eggs now, so don’t be afraid to use them in cocktails. (The USDA requires me to warm you about Salmonella here.) But, ah, the joys of a cocktail foamed to richness with an egg white. I’m pretty sure that old French line “C’est le petit Jesus en culotte de velours” was first uttered after a drink shaken with egg whites, for it is a religious experience of velvety goodness in your mouth.
That does mean you have to do two shakes, though, unless you like to wear your cocktail and not drink it. That foaminess comes along with a lot of gas expansion, so it’s easy to have your shaker lid blast off, making an unholy mess. Performing a “dry shake”—that is, one without ice—first does lessen the danger of a dramatic explosion. Still, hang on tight for both shakes, and just in case, do it over a sink and away from guests.
This is also a drink that benefits from a bar tool, so I’m going to suggest you buy a mister (you can get them for $10 online). The foam atop the orange cocktail is spectacular on its creamy own, but if you have an atomizer, you can add a lovely tinge of burnt orange by hitting a quick spritz of Angostura bitters on the foam. You might need to practice how much finger pressure makes how thick a spray in relation to how high you hold the canister over your coupe; it’s a feel thing, depending on whatever mister you buy. Not that they won’t love the cocktail if you make several dots of bitters in the foam straight from the bottle. But the atomizer is worth it for an extra ooh and aah from those you make the drink for.
The Oh My Darling Cocktail
- 1 Cocktail Shaker
- 1 Atomizer or Mister
- 2 Coupe glasses
- 4 ounces Pisco (Portón recommended)
- 1 ounce Aperol
- 2 ounces fresh tangerine juice
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- Shake all ingredients except for the bitters in a shaker, without ice. Hold on tight, as the egg will foam and expand the air in the shaker. Carefully remove the shaker lid. Add ice cubes and shake again until well chilled. Hold on tight. Strain into 2 coupes. Spoon out the ice from the shaker and then spoon any remaining foam atop the 2 drinks. Gently spray a mist of Angostura bitters onto each drink. Alternately, decoratively add several drops of bitters on the foam.