I’m not sure mixing a drink counts as cooking (and boy am I not much of a bartender, <ahem> mixologist), but here goes nothin’. Some time ago, a couple of friends vacationed in Portugal and brought us back a bottle of the favorite local liqueur - ginjinha. Ginjinha is made by fermenting ginja berries (which are similar to cherries) in brandy, and the accepted method of consumption, we are told, is straight-up. The flavor is sweet and dark - no cloying syrupy taste here. While I have thoroughly enjoyed the occasional glass of ginjinha, I decided I should look into other potential uses.
Part of my problem is that I am not a huge fan of very sweet drinks. In thinking how else I could use this fascinating ginjinha (pronounced jin-jeen-ah), it occurred to me that it might be an interesting substitute for the obnoxiously red maraschino cherry I’m always finding in the bottom of my Manhattan. Here is how I mixed my drink this evening:
2 oz bourbon to ¼ oz sweet vermouth to ¼ oz ginjinha to a couple dashes of Angostura bitters
It is more correct to use rye instead of bourbon in a Manhattan, and while I like rye, I’m awfully fond of bourbon, so that’s what I used. I shook all the ingredients lightly in a cocktail shaker filled with well-rinsed ice and poured it into a martini glass. It was delicious. I could taste the deep, dark sweetness of the ginjinha (which complemented the sweetness of the bourbon nicely), and it was perfectly offset by the bitter herbal note of the bitters.
I would have been delighted to try a second one with all of the sweet vermouth that would normally go into a Manhattan replaced with ginjinha, but as I now have the tolerance of a school girl, that will have to wait for another day.