Warning: Spoilers everywhere!
Oops, that's not Melisandre's bath oil...
Season 4, Episode 7: Mockingbird
Let's just say that Melisandre of Asshai is a woman of many, er...talents. But like any indecent hard working witch, she also keeps a cache of mysterious potions to help her with her work. We might not choose to store our apparently unlabeled potions next to our favorite bath products (love potion...demon black smoke potion...ooh, bath oil!) but to each witch her own. This week we pay tribute to the Red Woman in Melisandre Part I, in which we craft our potion.
Ser Frankie Solarik is a Toronto based mixologist, owner of BarChef and a living genius. Friends, his book The Bar Chef: A Modern Approach to Cocktails, is a wonder. A friend introduced me to this book with a handmade cocktail so good that I was on my phone and ordering his book before I even finished the drink. And it does not disappoint - the cocktails are to die for, the photography is stunning, and his approach to cocktail crafting is restrained yet absolutely inspired. He describes bitters in this way: "Alcohol aside, there is no ingredient more important to a cocktail than bitters. The tincture of herbs, plants and spices provides both depth and balance to a drink: It's as important to a bartender as salt is to a chef." After a taste of his cocktails, I think you too will be a believer in this special magic.
You may be surprised that this recipe calls for an entire bottle of rye whiskey. Solarik prefers to incorporate 1/4 oz -1/2 oz of his complex and less distilled bitters into his recipes for a more distinctive cocktail experience. Rather than just a few drops or dashes of heavily distilled bitters, the flavors of the handcrafted bitters are an integral component of his cocktails, "acting almost as a glaze that reappears with every sip." (Isn't that just dreamy? Am I the only one who just fell in love a little bit?)
What starts out with a bowl of fresh cherries and a handful of spices will slowly transform over three months into a deep red infusion hinting at exotic spices and the sweetness of a long lost summer. Friends, this is real magic right here. And yes, I did say three months and yes it is a rather long time to wait for a cocktail. But a good witch knows the most potent spells require patience and time. Let's just say 3 months is the necessary gestation time for the especially dark and smoky kind of magic that we will see in Melisandre: Part II. The wait will be worth it, I promise.
Bonus: The Spell
Before you seal the jar to steep in a dark place (a secret sea cave would be perfect!) take a moment to gaze into the flames and infuse the potion with these words, if you so choose.
Winds of Winter,
Dream of Spring,
call forth the JOY
G.R.R.M's words will bring.
Hey, it can't hurt. Book readers, I know you're with me - CAST THOSE SPELLS!
Cherry and Vanilla Bitters
slightly adapted from The Bar Chef: A Modern Approach to Cocktails by Frankie Solarik
makes about 24 oz (710 ml)