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01.05.11 by  

Marrakesh Xanadu: Oxymoron or the Best Martini You Ever Laid Your Lips On?

We took inspiration from this royally dry city to create a cocktail so refreshing, it’s worth risking eternal damnation.

Rule No. 1 when making a Moroccan cocktail: There are no rules. Rule No. 2: If you find one, break it (someone just made it up anyway). It goes without saying that tracking down a traditional drink recipe from a dry Muslim country is the cocktail equivalent of winning the lottery when you don’t play. The solution? Make up your own.

Good lighting makes everyone and everything look a little sexier.

The steps are simple:

1. Research the flavors of the area that can move from meal to mixer. Moroccan cuisine kicks it with flavor boosters like apricots (hmm…could be fun), nuts (sidecar these), preserved lemons (put this one in your back pocket), figs, dates…now you’re getting the flavor profile.

2. Work with ingredients to complement your main dish, not overpower it. Your taste buds will eventually revolt if you’re doubling up on preserved lemons with every sip and bite.

marrakesh 2

Even garnish snobs can't complain when you give them a sidecar of options with their drink.

3. Think of the cocktail experience as a layer of flavors that goes beyond the glass. You’ve got condiments and sidecars to round out the pour. Use them.

4. Start with an innocuous liqueur that’s easily blend-able, like vodka. Infuse it if you’ve got time. (We used the 1:1 ratio of vodka and fig vodka for the Marrakesh Xanadu because the fig vodka was ultra-strong and needed some tempering, but, we admit, we’re lightweights when it comes to girlie drinks.)

5. Add a mixer like juice, tonic or soda. We chose a freshly squeezed orange because it added gave a cool flavor punch with the fig, and citrus is fairly risk-free.

6. Lime is the fruit substitute for salt. Use a dash. (Tip: Bitters has a kick–up quotient of its own, so throw a few drops in at the end.)

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Score unusual martini glasses on the cheap at flea markets or antique stores.

Marrakesh Xanadu

  • 1 ounces fig-infused vodka*
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce brown sugar simple syrup
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange
  • 1 dash lime juice
  • Optional dash of bitters
  1. Shake over ice, strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a vodka-drunk* fig. Indulge.
  2. *Soak dried figs in vodka for a week to ensure the fruits are sufficiently “juiced” by the time they hit the party and vodka is deliciously infused. Pour enough vodka to cover an inch or so above the figs and seal in Tupperware or glass jar. Stir once a day.
  3. Garnish twist: A twist of preserved lemons or shaved ginger would also do the trick.

Sidecars: Vodka-drunk figs stuffed with bleu cheese, freshly roasted or flambéed apricots, and almonds. If you’re serving in summer, grill fresh figs or apricots, instead.