Scorched Earth

Now, most of the younger ones out there might remember Scorched Earth as being something like this:
Scorched Earth
But it’s also a fairly enjoyable drink.

On my regular eGullet trawls I saw a recommendation for the Scorched Earth cocktail, invented by Gary Regan. Now I thought I’d tried this before- on the chowhound forums, someone had recommended it with the below recipe, except with lemon juice instead of vermouth. It turned out appallingly. When I saw the actual recipe, it sounded quite delicious, and I was eager to correct my previous error. I had thus far little mixing use for Cynar, which I loved, and my recently acquired Chabot Armagnac, which does not stand up to the Polignac Cognac I have for most applications. I decided to give the Chabot a go here, as all of the ingredients are fairly sweet and the Armagnac is a bit drier than the Cognac.

Scorched Earth by Gary Regan
1 1/2 Brandy (Chabot VSOP Armagnac)
1/2 Sweet Vermouth (Cinzano)
1/2 Cynar
Lemon twist

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Flame a fat lemon twist over the surface of the drink and rub it over the rim of the glass. Drop it in, or not.

This is pretty much the first time I’ve flamed a twist, but from what I’ve read here are some recommendations:
You want to cut a large, thick piece of peel.
Hold the peel just above the fire source for a bit first, to warm it up. (Traditionally a match is used, but I couldn’t find any so used one of those electrical fire starters with the triggers. This worked alright but didn’t provide a very big flare- which could be due to my peel squeezing technique as well.)
Holding the peel, by the edges, diagonally above the surface of the drink, pointing through the fire source, snap the edges of the peel together to propel oils through the fire, into the drink.
A good video demonstration of the technique is given here. (Though I doubt it’s the “standard” garnish for the Cosmopolitan)
If dropping the twist in, you may even want to consider cutting separate twists for flaming and garnishing, depending on your aesthetic preference.

Even with the drier Armagnac, this was a fairly sweet drink and in my mind best suited as a digestif. There is a nice balance of flavours here- the Cynar certainly doesn’t dominate, and the Cinzano is difficult to pick out but detectable. The brandy is very present, and the Cynar gives a long bitter finish. I’d say this is a good, richly flavoured brandy drink to have after dinner. I didn’t drop the twist in this time, but might try it the next to give a stronger lemon presence, which might balance out some of the sweetness. I’ll also try to improve my flaming technique to get more oils in.

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Published in: on August 16, 2009 at 4:09 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Great opener!

    I’m not sure how this drink name came to my attention, but I’ll take this as a suggestion to try it.


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