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Jan 15, 2013 04:14 PM

What cocktails have you made with tamarind?

I'm trying to create or find a cocktail that uses tamarind, Canton (ginger liqueur), and some spicy element. So far I have been using 1.75 oz tequila, a significant amount of Canton (about 1.25 oz- it seems to completely disappear under the tamarind), an equal amount of lemon to balance the liqueur, and a very small amount of tamarind paste- maybe 1/3 oz. The tamarind tastes muddy and the drink is tiring to the palate. Oh, and a sugar/salt/chili powder half rim.

I'm using tequila since I saw it recommended elsewhere as a good pairing for tamarind, but what else would work? I thought gin might cut through the muddiness more successfully but the juniper was overly prominent. I'm reluctant to use vodka.


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  1. Tamarind is surprisingly hard to mix with. If the paste is unsweetened, it is powerfully sour, so part of the proportions will need to be achieving an appropriate sugar balance.

    Canton is pretty mildly ginger. Go easy on the tamarind so as to not overpower it.

    I do think that tequila could be made to work. Cognac would also work, as would bourbon. Start with mostly spirit, add enough Canton for it to be balanced with the spirit's flavor. Then add only enough tamarind for it to complement the Canton. Adjust the sugar with citrus or sugar if needed (ideally it wouldn't). If it needs complexity, consider your chili or maybe some aromatic bitters.

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    2 Replies
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      Good idea for the methodology, I figured you would pipe up with a great suggestion. I've never invented a cocktail before and I really don't have the knowledge to do so- I'm just doing a favor for a friend! I will try this as soon as my primary taster is off the flu medication.

      1. re: EvergreenDan

        In addition to paste, tamarind pods are available at Asian markets, and they have a sweeter and milder flavor. I think they'd be a better starting point for syrup to be used in a drink, aside from the fact that it can be a bit of a PITA to extract the meat from the pod. (Watch out, too, for the ridiculously rock hard seeds. I've never seen anything else like 'em and suspect that they'd easily win a battle with a tooth.)

      2. Are you making a tamarind syrup or just incorporating it into the drink then straining it out.

        I think a sweetened syrup would be more successful. I have used rum with the mexican drink tamarindo to good affect.

        1 Reply
        1. re: quazi

          I'm using tamarind paste (unsweetened). I'm trying to make the drink as simple as possible (no straining, no homemade syrups etc). The paste mixes well once shaken but it's extremely earthy and overpowering.

        2. I've played around with tamarind in the past. I tried to locate some of my successful recipes, but they must be in my files that are in storage. I just picked up some tamarind paste a few days ago to develop recipes. I'll post when I have some good ones.

          One thing I think may be happening with your cocktail is that you have too much going on. When you get muddy flavors, that's usually the case.

          I don't find tamarind difficult to work with at all. The trick is to make a tamarind syrup, not use the paste straight. Also I remember using some warm baking type spices in one batch of tamarind syrup I made, and that really balanced things out. Focus on just the spirit and tamarind to start. then try adding just one ingredient at a time and see what bring out the flavors inherent to the tamarind and base spirit. then work on balance. You might find that a small amount of salt in the cocktail helps bring out more of the spicy tamarind flavor, and balances the sourness.

          Smoky mezcal, aged rum, bourbon, rye, and gin played nicely with the syrup.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JMF

            I'll try your suggestion. I tried Dan's suggestion of balancing the spirit and Canton last night, and it took almost equal parts before the ginger flavor was strong enough. The resulting drink was tangy but overly sweet, so I'll have to try a different route.

          2. Here are 3 - one Bourbon, one brandy/rum, and one gin. The pairings (such as it working well with lime) can be extracted:

            This recipe was created by Andy Ricker at Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon. The ingredients on the left are the way it was listed in the recipe and the ones in the brackets was the way I modified it. Either way, it turns out well and has the same 4 oz pre-shake volume.

            Tamarind Whiskey Sour
            1 1/2 oz Bourbon
            1 oz Lime Juice
            1/2 oz Tamarind Purée mixed with 1/2 oz Hot Water [1 tsp Tamarind Concentrate mixed with 1/3 oz Hot Water]
            1/2 oz Rich (2:1) Simple Syrup [1 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)]
            Shake with ice and strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

            A recipe of ours that won a punch competition at Drink here in Boston (can easily be scaled down):

            Pattaya Punch
            1 bottle (750 mL) Pol Rogers Brut Reserve
            8 oz Green Chartreuse
            12 oz Cognac
            12 oz Amber Rum
            8 oz Tamarind "Syrup" (*)
            6 oz Pineapple Juice
            4 oz Lime Juice
            8 oz Oolong Tea
            8 oz Simple Syrup
            (*) Take a 4 inch x 2 inch x 1/2 inch block of dried tamarind and add 12 oz boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes using a spoon to break up tamarind while steeping. Strain to yield approx. 8 oz tamarind "syrup".

            Mix ingredients in a bowl with a large ice block to cool. Add Champagne before serving. Serve cold in 4 oz punch cups. No garnish.

            And my submission to the Tales of the Cocktail Ramos variation competition.

            Ganesh Gin Fizz
            1 1/2 oz Gin (preferably Old Raj)
            1 oz Lime Juice
            1/2 oz Ginger Syrup
            1/2 oz Pineapple Syrup
            1/2 tsp Tamarind Concentrate
            1 oz Cream
            1 Egg White
            7 drop Keora Water (can sub 3-4 drop orange blossom water or omit)

            Dry shake citrus, cream, and egg white. Add rest of ingredients and ice, and shake for several minute. To Collins glass, add 1 1/2 oz soda water. Strain shaker contents over soda water in glass. Add 1 1/2 oz of soda water to shaker's ice, swirl, and strain into glass. Add straw. Garnish with 7 additional drops of Keora water on egg white froth (see above recommendation).


            2 Replies
              1. re: yarm

                Mmmm... Fred, your two sound great. I'll have to try them out soon.