What I think I'll write about is mixing alcohol, though.
I've been playing with orgeat, a french almond syrup. It gives a lovely, rich undertone to mixes with it. And with falernum, a Caribbean cinnamon-clove-almond liquor, but with less oil. It doesn't separate like orgeat, and it doesn't have quite the richness, but the cinnamon-clove thing is quite nice.
As I wrote in a previous post, you can make a wonderfully deadly Caribbean Shirley-Temple-like drink with the falernum. Orgeat doesn't work as well in a faux Shirley Temple, it's not properly transparent. More almond in it, so it's a bit white and cloudy.
It turns out that you can mix orgeat, falernum, orange curacao and vanilla extract to get a wonderfully tasty, complex base for a drink. I use about 2:1:1:1 proportions, so a bit more orgeat than the others. It's not terribly alcoholic -- indeed, orgeat and falernum don't always have *any* alcohol, though the commercially available kinds have a bit. You can make it even more complex with just a few drops of bitters. I'm using Woodford Reserve bitters lately, which beat the standard Angostura bitters all hollow. Apparently they're gentian-based. They add complexity to a lot of drinks as long as you only use a few drops. Which is, I suppose, what bitters are for.
I'm still trying to figure out what to mix it with. It's lovely by itself, very light and vanilla-almond-y with just a hint of the citrus and spices. But there's not much alcohol in it. And the things I've tried adding (white rum, spiced rum) feel a bit harsh. And as for whiskey/whisky, perish the thought. It just doesn't go well with a light, complex flavor like that.
I'm sure I'm ignoring some excellent pairing, or just haven't thought of it yet. I have high hopes.
I'm also not a vodka guy. That wouldn't be a bad pairing if I liked vodka.
Maybe I'll add a touch of overproof rum. I've been playing with Wray and Nephew, a rather nice one. It's much less harsh than Bacardi 151. It wouldn't take much Wray to bring the proof up nicely.
I'm starting the new job tomorrow. So I'm pouring in tiny glasses. When I'm trying to get flavors to work, it's rare I mix up even a half-shot at a time. And in this case, most of the components are very low in alcohol.
I should probably check my various sake glasses and other tiny barware to get a feel for how many tablespoons each of them is. I'm eyeballing a fair bit right now. Having a nice half-ounce and quarter-ounce measure, for instance, might make these mixtures much more exact but not require me to mix four or five shots' worth of alcohol at a go. I can't consume many of those. I'm a lightweight. But with low-proof syrups and half-shot mixtures, I can try a lot of flavor combinations.
I've cooked a turkey and brussels sprouts today already and rendered a nice stock concentrate while cooking the neck. I'll also be making gravy with the neck and stock (plus bacon fat,) frying up some potatoes and doing gravy/cheese fries. I think that'll make a nice meal before I'm off to work for the week and not cooking as elaborately.