Arrack is a South East Asian spirit distilled from either the sap of unopened coconut flowers, grain (particularly red rice), fruit or sugar cane depending on which country it came from. Coconut arrack is from Sri Lanka, Batavia Arrack is from Indonesia and Arak is from the Middle East. For legal reasons, White Lion VSOA cannot say it’s arrack because in the US, only spirits distilled from anise see is called arrack. White Lion VSOA (Very Special Old Arrack) from Sri Lanka and will be available in Los Angeles at the end of April. It’ll be available at retail stores such as Beverage Warehouse, Vendome Beverly Hills and Tarzana Wine and Spirits. Or look for it at Father’s Office, Lukshon, BruHaus in Santa Monica or the Library Bar (Roosevelt Hotel) among others.
White Lion VSOA sent me a couple of samples to try out. Upon first taste, I thought it was much closer to whiskey than rum. The VSOA is aged in teak barrels (Halmilla wood) which creates a beautiful brown color. With that in mind, I decided to try to recreate one of my favorite cocktails, Rivera’s Blood Sugar Sex Magic by Julian Cox with the VSOA. I did this from memory so it’s not exact. I knew there was basil and red bell pepper in the drink. The only thing I left out was the chili pepper. If you like heat in your drink, go ahead and add it.
I first started by muddling red bell pepper and basil together. Next I added lemon juice, agave and the arrack. Shake then strain.
Here’s the recipe from the LA Times Magazine:
Blood Sugar Sex Magic
Bartender: Julian Cox
4 lemon pieces (⅔ of a lemon)
1 pinch basil
5–8 chili peppers and red bell peppers, deseeded and julienned
¾ ounce agave nectar
2 ounces Michter’s Single Barrel US1 straight rye whiskey
Muddle first four ingredients, then add rye whiskey. Shake and strain over ice. Note: Julienned chili peppers are a mixture of red jalapeño peppers and red bell peppers (50-50 ratio) cut into long strips. Lemon is halved, then cut into thirds (6 total pieces). Garnish with bell pepper and basil.
I like Julian’s choice of rye because it’s not as sweet and plays well with the fresh produce. Arrack is a perfect variation.
Next, I wanted to see how VSOA would play with amaro. Getting out my Campari, I did a simple cocktail of VSOA, Campari, agave, lemon and Angostura biters.
- 1 oz VSOA
- 3/4 oz Campari
- 3/4 oz agave
- 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
- Angostura bitters
- lemon peel
Add ingredients to shaker, shake hard until cocktail shaker is completely cold and frosted. Strain into a glass and add 6 dashes of Angostura bitters. Add lemon peel garnish. It’s very refreshing and a perfect Spring cocktail.
© The Minty // LACocktails.com 2012