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Cupboard Cocktails: Save the Liquid from Chickpea Cans to Shake up Fancy Stay-at-Home Drinks 

click to enlarge RON BECHTOL
  • Ron Bechtol
Let’s face it: You need a drink. I know I could use one.

There’s nothing wrong with pulling the cork on a bottle of favorite vino, popping the tab on a popular beer — or even retreating to an old favorite cocktail. But let’s face this reality: you may have some time on your hands. Why not use it to get just a little creative? And stocking the pantry against long home stays may have given you some unexpected tools to aid in that endeavor.

Here’s one: aquafaba.

Never heard of it? You’re not alone. The liquid that you usually drain off and discard when opening a can of chickpeas, aquafaba has only recently come to the attention of bartenders as a substitute for egg whites. Yes, it foams. Which is also why it’s become popular with vegans and those who’d simply prefer not to consume raw egg whites.

Good thing for us, that foam is essential to several classic cocktails.

The one likely to be most familiar to even casual consumers is the Ramos Gin Fizz. It requires a strong shaking arm or the gauntlet of tireless ‘tenders that The Modernist recently employed in a benefit event featuring the drink. Those cocktail crafters efficiently passed the tin from one shaker to the next until ten or so had had their way with it. We won’t attempt that at home.

Instead, we’ll stick to a simpler rendition.

Gin FabaFizz
2 ounces of gin, preferably a full-bodied one such as Sipsmith V.S.O.J., a high-juniper, overproof bottling
1 tablespoon of aquafaba, fine-strained
1 ounce of simple syrup, sugar dissolved in an equal amount of water
½ ounce of lemon juice
½ ounce of lime juice
Club soda or Topo Chico to top
Sprig of rosemary for garnish

Directions: The recipe I was using as a springboard called for putting the club soda into a mixing tin, then adding all the other ingredients, including the aquafaba, and shaking for a minute with ice. Many recipes using egg white call for what is called a “dry” shake, in which you vigorously shake the egg white solo for 20-30 seconds, no ice, to emulsify it. After that, the remaining ingredients go in. Some recipes, such as the one below, call for the aquafaba to be treated the same way, and I tried that here. No dice — apparently, a single tablespoon isn’t enough mass moving around to encourage an emulsion. So, I added all the other ingredients except the Topo, preferring to douse it on top after the drink had been strained into a glass.

Older-but-now-wiser tip: To avoid frozen fingers, put a tea towel around the shaker before your one minute, or more, of shaking.

And to answer your inevitable question — no, the drink doesn’t taste of chickpeas.

So, let’s try another: a classic sour with bourbon.

This originally was a serves-two recipe, and it called for shaking 2 tablespoons of aquafaba first. But even in times of unusual duress, I didn’t think I needed to be drinking for two. So, I cut the recipe in half and used the above method of adding everything to the tin and shaking it all together, vigorously. No Topo this time. Additional word of caution: seat the upper tin well on the lower — the more vertical the better — as a minute of shake is a long time, and leaking can occur. Ahem.

ChickTx Bourbon Sour
2 ½ ounces of whiskey (I used Ranger Creek .36 Bourbon)
2 ½ ounces of lemon juice
2 ounces of simple syrup
1 tablespoon or more of aquafaba, fine strained
2 Luxardo cocktail cherries, skewered for garnish

Directions: Shake, shake, shake and strain into highball glass over a large ice cube. The garnish may seem like a luxury, but these not-cheap cherries will always be in my pandemic pantry. Might as well weather the storm with panache.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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