On Thursday night in an exclusive release party at the San Antonio Zoo, the San Antonio Cocktail Conference revealed its signature cocktail for the five-day event that occurs in January.
Named the “High-Jinx,” the drink takes its name from its foundational liquor, a blended Scotch Whiskey called Monkey Shoulder, a name that playfully harks back to a condition maltmen used to suffer from hand-turning barley for hours every day, causing their dominant arm to droop lower from exhaustion. The liquor, a candy red liquid with spiced oak and vanilla notes, adds deep body to an otherwise effervescent cocktail.
In addition to the 1½ ounces of Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whiskey, the High-Jinx also includes a 1/2 ounce of Solerno, 3/4 ounce of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 3/4 ounces of both Orgeat and fresh pomegranate Grenadine, and is finished with club soda and an orange twist. The result is a saccharine syrup lifted by citrus and buoyant soda, redolent of blood orange from the biting Solerno and rose water from the fresh grenadine. The drink fizzes on the palate like mineral water, but leaves a complex honeyed, molasses taste in its wake, creating a sensation of both refreshment and satiation.
The SACC chose the San Antonio Zoo as its premiere location partially because their drink’s flagship liquor invokes the image of a monkey, but also because the concoction is playful, youthful, almost childish. It’s a clean cocktail, with unmistakable flavors that blend without losing their integrity, almost mixology 101, though any semblance of simplicity is an illusion; the drink’s accessibility is calculated. The satin-like liquor, nettling Salerno and candied grenadine come together in stride, more comfortable as a threesome than apart. Mixed with club soda and garnished with orange, the High-Jinx is a perfectly balanced drink, a loud testament to the mixologist talent of San Antonio, and an enticing teaser to what might be the most playful Cocktail Conference yet.
1 1/2 ounces Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whiskey
1/2 ounce Solerno
3/4 ounce lemon luice
3/4 ounce pomegranate grenadine
3/4 ounce orgeat
Stir together and pour over ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with orange.