Cigarettes & Roses

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by Raul Faria

Cigarettes & Roses was created for the “Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender Competition”, which tasked us to create a cocktail that had a story and could be inspired by, well, anything really. The sky was the limit. I chose the “Biker’s Girl” character from the Lana Del Rey video “Ride”. The girl in question is a bit of a rebel so I chose the classic whiskey cocktail “Scofflaw” as a build and I wanted to try and represent this person’s world in a cocktail.

My takeaway from the video is that she is a beautiful, gentle but conflicted person stuck in a bad situation. She was drawn to the open road and has lost herself to that life. Her beauty and complexity is represented by the Bombay Sapphire. Bombay Sapphire is less Juniper forward, and instead draws into focus botanicals like angelica, cassia and orris root, making it a bit smoother and less aggressive but still able to express the full 10 botanicals. I also chose to utilize Lillet Blanc, an aromatized wine that provides a gentle sweetness and has notes of citrus and quinine to add a touch of mystery, which our “Biker’s Girl” possesses in abundance. I then chose tobacco, sage and applewood smoked acai syrup to represent those dingy bars full of smoke that she spends her time in. I also chose a drop of rose water. That would be her perfume showing through the smoky haze. Finally, we have the ice sphere that contains a rose bulb. The ice sphere is a direct analogy of the harsh, cold world she lives in, around the rose bulb that represents the “Biker’s Girl” herself.

That was the story. The cocktail comes together much like the classic itself, except it draws its smoke and wood notes from actual smoke and wood. Overall, it’s a sexy-looking, tasty sour that’s pretty straightforward in its production, but some of the prep can be tricky. Let’s make some Cigarettes & Roses.

1) Let’s begin by getting our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, our Hawthorne Strainer, a Citrus Press our Double-strainer, a 10-12 oz double old fashioned glass and a jigger with a 1.5 oz, .75 oz and .5 oz measure. Our shopping list will include Bombay Sapphire, Çedilla Açai liqueur, agave nectar, lemons, edible flowers, rose water, an ice sphere tray, a smoking gun, small applewood chips, organic tobacco and dried sage.

2) Here’s the tricky part- the prep. The good news is that once it’s done, the cocktail itself is super easy.

Smoked Açai Syrup– The first step is to acquire the syrup. Begin by adding 1 cup of Çedilla into a large measuring cup. Next, add 1 cup of agave and stir so it dissolves the agave into a pourable syrup. Dump that into a saucepan and add one more cup of Çedilla , stir and on high heat bring to a boil. Once the boil has been obtained, bring heat to low and reduce for 15 minutes. The mixture should be syrupy and sweet like grenadine.

Now that we have our syrup, it’s time to smoke it. Begin by adding the açai syrup to an empty bottle. Insert the tube that comes along with your smoking gun and add the blend of organic tobacco, dried sage and applewood chips to the “bowl”. Flip the switch on the gun, and light her up! The bottle will soon fill with smoke and start billowing out as well so quickly cap the bottle and trap it in. Switch the gun off and empty the wood and herb blend out in a sink or an ashtray. Shake the syrup in the bottle so it passes through the smoke and absorbs the flavor. Uncap the bottle and release the smoke. Pour the syrup into a different container like a mason jar or squeeze bottle and store in the fridge for later use.

Rose Bulb Ice Sphere– This is easy or annoying, depending on what ice sphere tray you purchased. I’d recommend the pliable plastic versions, but the hard plastic shells make really tight almost translucent spheres where the rubber pliable plastic trays seem to be a bit cloudier. The hard shells usually have a smaller opening for the water though, so filling them can be tricky. Another tricky part is making sure you acquire EDIBLE or ORGANIC roses. Anything else is going to have chemicals that will make you sick. You can find the roses online and edible flowers in general can be purchased directly from a specialty supermarket like Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Simply add the edible rose bulb or flower to the tray and fill with water. Stick in the freezer and wait until frozen. Set aside in a sealed container for later use.

3) Since we worked on it so hard on it, let’s begin by adding .5 oz of our smoked açai syrup to our Boston Shaker.

4) Now we can add our .75 oz of lemon juice. We can simply slice the lemons and squeeze them directly into our jigger or we can use our double-strainer to catch all the pulp and seeds and squeeze into a separate container.

5) Carefully add our 1 drop of rose water to the glass. A little goes a looooong way. Rose water typically does not come with a dropper so pick up a medicine dropper or use one that comes with one of the other fancier bitters you might have.

6) Let’s add our 1 oz of Lillet Blanc. I’ve used Lillet Blanc in my Spiced Cherry Manhattan and I really enjoy the silky texture and fruity, citrus notes and feel they are really complimentary to the Sapphire Botanical formula. Lillet Blanc also is made with cinchona bark which contains quinine and we know gin and quinine (tonic) are best friends.

7) Time to add 1.5oz of the star of the show, Bombay Sapphire. Sapphire was created with the intention of appealing to those who found London Dry Style gins to “piney” and to showcase some new botanicals. When it was released in 1987, it was a first of its kind product and helped pave the way for gin to gain some ground, while vodka’s American spirit market domination was in full swing.

8) Add the ice sphere to our chilled double old fashioned glass. Next add ice to our Boston Shaker and shake. Double-strain into the glass so it will catch the ice chips allowing the ice sphere to show through and prevent any cracks. Enjoy!

Cigarettes & Roses– 1.5 oz of Bombay Sapphire, 1 oz lillet blanc, .75 oz lemon juice, .5 oz tobacco smoked acai syrup, 1 drop of rose water, shake then strain into chilled, 10-12 oz double old fashioned glasses with an edible rose bulb ice sphere.


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