Meet the very alluring, very mysterious La Rouquine (‘the redhead’), one of Le Grand Bistro Américain’s four new housemade fall cocktails by Albie Bjornberg, Gestionnaire de Boisson (Beverage Manager in English!) of the authentic French bistro at Carillon Point in Kirkland.
Just as “it’s been said” that women can change their nature from one minute to the next, La Rouquine is a blend of two ideas that evolve into this beautiful cocktail. La Rouquine starts as a Wodka Vodka and Linie Aquavit-based martini, then morphs into a grapefruit and Campari-driven cocktail as the ice cube melts. This is one drink that is best enjoyed at a relaxed pace which the French do best.
Three more of Le Grand’s innovative fall concoctions are described below. They include a French take on the classic mojito and whiskey sour, and a proper tribute to one of the best gin-based cocktails of all time that features a housemade Pear Sage Shrub. Each drink is $12.
Lavender Rye Sour
Le Grand has taken the classic sour that has been around since the late 1800s and added a Parisian flair with French lavender syrup and egg white for added texture. Le Grand builds this beverage with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Lavender Simple Syrup, lemon juice and egg white shaken without ice for two minutes to create a froth. Then they ice and shake again to dilute the cocktail and chill it. Finally it is strained over fresh ice and garnished with a sprig of lavender. Oui oui!
The French Mojito
Le Grand makes a play on one of the 25 cocktails everyone should know, the classic Mojito. The French rendition substitutes Remy Martin VSOP Cognac for the rum. There’s the familiar mint and lime addition, but then they take it up a notch with Cynar (an Italian liqueur derived from artichokes) and Creme de Mure (blackberry liqueur). Shake, strain over fresh ice, and top with soda water and a singular mint leaf. Magnifique!
The Last Shrub
Last but not least is The Last Shrub, a variation of an original cocktail called The Last Word. Straight out of the Prohibition era Detroit Athletic Club, it gained a local following from Seattle’s bartender of bartenders, Murray Stenson. Le Grand has tinkered with the ratios of the original recipe by upping the Beefeater Gin, lowering the Green Chartreuse, keeping the lime juice and Luxardo Maraschino the same, then finishing with a housemade Pear Sage Shrub (bar lingo for a flavoring syrup).
The shrub technique originated in 17th century England and was popular during the colonial period in America. Shrubs were used as a preservation method for berries and other fruits before the introduction of refrigeration. Vinegar was substituted for citrus due to the expensive nature of these fruits.
Albie Bjornberg’s Pear Sage Shrub recipe:
Five large D’Anjou Pears
One bunch of organic sage
Four cups baking sugar
Two cups Champagne Vinegar
Clean the pears and sage. Cut the pears into 10-12 pieces each, making sure to remove the stem and seeds. Add the pears into a large non-reactive container. Chiffonade the sage, making sure to keep the stems attached to the sage. Add this to the container. Add the sugar and stir. Cover and let the mixture macerate for approximately four days. Make sure to check the product each day and stir. After four days strain the syrup from the fruit using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. This should produce about four cups of syrup. Add two cups of Champagne vinegar. Stir this up, bottle it, then serve as an addition to a cocktail or as a non-alcoholic beverage with just a splash of soda water.
Le Grand Bistro Americain
2220 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 98033