Ingredient experimentation is as integral to making cocktails as the spirits themselves. I was challenged to develop cocktails to match the exotic vegetables story on Page 6E this week.
The search for tropical foods and spirits I could pair began. At the store, the easiest ingredients to find were chayote squash and yuca, so the decision was made and the cocktailing began.
Working with chayote squash was very easy. It does not have the same starchy texture as other gourds, but instead is crisp and crunchy like a sweeter cucumber with a bit more body. The subtle sweetness and crunch make it the perfect garnish and compliment to this classic gin refresher.
Working yuca into a cocktail was a bit more difficult. My only previous experience with the vegetable had been in the form of delicious fries at trendy restaurants. Using yuca at home taught me the root vegetable is hard to peel and loaded with toxins if not prepared properly. The first attempt to boil and food process the peeled yuca resulted in an odd, starchy dough that left me flabbergasted and defeated. I then realized yuca is used to make tapioca, so I decided to take a shortcut: I headed back to the Asian market and grabbed tapioca balls, the kind used in boba tea, to make an adult iced coffee.
Scott Pollenz, Times staff writer