I’m normally a fan of the highball and its many variations when it comes to cocktails. In particular, the whiskey and ginger is my go-to beverage.
But I’ve been trying to branch out a little bit lately, playing around with different mixers and recipes. So, when I stumbled on this recipe for a “Retox,” not only did the name crack me up, I was intrigued by the inclusion of apple cider vinegar. It brought to mind a switchel, a vinegar, water, and ginger combination often given to workers during hay season here in New England.
So, I tried Bon Appetit’s recipe and liked it quite a bit. I felt like the cayenne was a bit forceful at 1/8 teaspoon, so I began tweaking and so far I’ve come up with a few different variations that I enjoy even more.
Some of the changes, in this variation in particular lend the drink a lighter feel, which is nice as the summer heat descends on us.
In particular, I’ve been using the subtler, fruitier heat of New Mexico green hatch chili powder instead of cayenne. I also recently stumbled upon some blood orange bitters, which are amazing here and in other applications.
And the addition of fresh ginger really brightens everything up and ties back to my switchel inspiration. (We keep frozen ginger root in our freezer, so there’s always an easy supply waiting to be grated into a simmering pot, a stir fry – or a cocktail.)
Also, a good friend knows how much I love me some Knob Creek whiskey and he has given me a few bottles of their Smoked Maple Bourbon over the years. We love to use it in cooking and I’ve tried it in a few variations of the classic sour, but I have to say this Retox Redux is probably my favorite way of using this Knob Creek specialty.
If you don’t have this particular whiskey, feel free to substitute a good bourbon or rye and add a teaspoon of real maple syrup before you shake.
I also switched out the apple cider, which is great in the original, but Fuji apple juice is much lighter and fruity, making it perfect for this time of year. I’ll probably post a few other variations at some point, but this version really does help beat the heat in a refreshing way, so I thought it would be perfect for this sweltering July 4 weekend.
The Retox Redux
Yield: 1 drink
2 oz. Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon
2 oz. Fuji apple juice
½ to 1 oz. apple cider vinegar
Pinch New Mexican hatch green chili powder
A few dashes blood orange bitters
Splash of orange seltzer
Orange twist for garnish
Grated ginger for garnish
Fill a shaker with ice and add whiskey, juice, vinegar, chili powder, and bitters. Shake well until shaker is well coated in condensation, about 20 to 30 seconds. (You can also use a mason jar for your shaker, so you don’t need to worry about straining it. One less dish and it harkens back to the switchels I mentioned earlier.)
Strain into a glass over ice. Add a splash of orange seltzer and garnish with orange twist and grated ginger.
Sit back and chill out.