Optimists and hoarders believe the dusty bottles languishing in the back of their bar carts could be useful one day. They might find an unopened bottle of Lillet just in time for an unseasonably warm weekend, for instance, or Campari at the exact moment they’re craving a Negroni.
More often than not, however, those bottles lying just beyond arm’s reach are oddballs. They might be obscure liqueurs or scarcely used modifiers a former roommate (was his name Derek?) bought for exactly one recipe and then forgot about forever.
Fortunately, many spirits have all sorts of purposes beyond the glass. Just as frittatas transform eggs into an elegant main course, bottles of booze can be used to make something delicious.
Take this pastis vinaigrette from Eastern Standard restaurant in Boston. It’s a summery complement to butter lettuce and radishes, but also holds up to boiled and smashed potatoes.
Eastern Standard’s wait staff sometimes describes it as an “absinthe vinaigrette” to avoid confusion, but the misnomer actually speaks volumes. Any anise-esque spirit, such as absinthe, pastis, ouzo, or arak, will work here. Just be sure to adjust the lemon juice and honey or agave nectar to taste to balance your sweet, acidic, and bitter flavors.
Pastis Vinaigrette Recipe
Adapted from Eastern Standard, this recipe makes around 3 1/2 cups.
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ cup pastis, ouzo, or arak
- ¼ cup honey or agave nectar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 cups canola oil
- Salt to taste
- Blend all ingredients except the canola oil and salt in a food processor.
- Slowly add the oil while running the processor on low until fully integrated.
- Season with salt. Store, covered, in your refrigerator for up to three days.
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