It’s all about balance in a cocktail.
Yes, fine quality ingredients count…but put those fine ingredients together wrong and it won’t matter. If the balance is off; if the flavors fight with each other; if there’s too much of this and too little of that…it can all go awry.
There’s many a cocktail that was destroyed by a heavy hand or an unwise shortcut. Two dashes when one is called for might perk up a cocktail—or it might destroy the fine balance of the drink. Balance is everything.
A suitable case in point was recently experienced at Accanto, a more casual ristorante in the same building as the revered Genoa. The Bee’s Kiss, an ethereal blend of tequila and honey, depends on a bartender’s fine sense of balance and harmony of ingredients; a heavy hand or a clumsy moment could turn this charming cocktail into a clumsy mess.
All the better then that the bartender was precise in his measurements, confidently assembling the cocktail without a single wasted motion. It’s always a pleasure to watch a pro at work.
The Bee’s Kiss at Accanto is a combination of Herradura Anejo Tequila, Benedictine Liqueur, St. Germain Elderflower, fresh lemon and honey simple syrup, served up in a martini glass. It is brisk and refreshing, tangy and mildly sweet, and surprisingly complex and delicate at the same time, with fleeting, teasing flavors of herbs, flowers, fruits, citrus, oak and honey. The tequila shines through like a beacon, but the distinctive Benedictine and St. Germain dance in, out and around beguilingly, while the crisp, acidic lemon and unctuous ooze of the honey flirt with each other without ever committing.
The choice of tequila was inspired. A distinctive, outspoken style with heavy whiskey-barrel accents was required—but without obliterating the salty, herbaceous, peppery bite of the natural agave—and the aggressive Lowlands style of Herradura, with 25 months of barrel maturation, supplied exactly those characteristics. Other tequilas would have worked, but not as well.
The Benedictine, poised on that delicate line between bitter herbs and sweet effulgence, played seesaw with the sweeter and more floral elderflower of the St. Germain. And the acidic tart lemon lightened up the heavier lush and plush honey to complete the balancing act.
Lovely to look at, profusely aromatic, and held in perfect tension by the balance of all its elements, all competing but none dominating, the Bee’s Kiss, when properly done, is a testament to a talented bartender. And it handles a plate of charcuterie as easily as a crunchy fritto misto.