I was lucky enough to come across some Bergamot oranges in the supermarket the other day and literally did a little happy dance. I squealed with joy after I discovered them sitting amongst the other citrus fruits on display, causing the produce guy to look up from his box full of Rio Star grapefruits. Observing my obvious elation, he asked "Have you ever had a Bergamot?". I told him that I had never eaten one, but that I was familiar with the flavor from years of drinking Earl Grey tea and was excited to see how I could use them in a cocktail.
He said he didn't care for them because they were too tart, but proceeded to pull one from the pile and open it up with a knife, offering me a wedge of the freshly sliced citrus. It was, indeed, very tart, but I gobbled it up happily, thinking of all the things I might do with it once I got it home. I snagged 5 of them, knowing that they might not have them next time I came back (which they didn't, by the way) and began plotting various Bergamot projects on my walk home.
After doing a little reading about Bergamots, it appears that most of them are grown in the coastal region of the province of Calabria in Italy. They are typically available in the late winter, so there is a short season for them, and this is the first time I've ever seen them in the store, which makes sense if they're coming all the way from Calabria. An essence extracted from the skins of the fruit is used in flavoring Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas. The peels of the fruit are also used in the production of perfume because of its ability to easily combine with other scents and aromas.
Since its mostly the aroma of Bergamot that is so sought after, I thought it would be interesting to use just the juice of the fruit, in lieu of the skins and essential oils, to see how it compared to say lemon or lime juice. Gin seemed like a natural pairing for the fragrant fruit, since there are already so many beautiful botanicals and florals in gin. I used a very aromatic gin, The Botanist, knowing that it would stand up well to the assertive flavor of the Bergamot. I chose to round out the flavors and aromas by using some freshly made Rose Petal Syrup.
The drink turned out beautifully. The flavor and aroma of the Bergamot is much more assertive than lemon or lime. There is a certain spicy, peppery note present in the Bergamot that I really like. I'm excited to work with the remaining fruit in more drinks, but for now, I'm diggin' this sour and I hope you will too. Cheers!
- 1 1/2 oz The Botanist Gin
- 3/4 oz Rose Petal Syrup*
- 3/4 oz Bergamot Orange Juice
- 1/2 oz Egg White
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake without ice for 60 seconds. Add ice and shake. Double strain into a coupe and garnish with a rose bud.
*Rose Petal Syrup*
- 1 cup Culinary Grade Rose Petals (or organic fresh rose petals)
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 cup Water
Instructions: Bring all ingredients to a boil in a sauce pan. Turn heat to low and let simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain out solids and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.