America, you need a drink: The Shoal Cocktail
A shoal is a sandbar that connects an island to the mainland at low tide. I chose that name due the colors of this drink looking like the sand of a New England beach. The cocktail is composed of gin, applejack (or calvados if you want to fancy it up), and St-Germaine elderflower liqueur with orange bitters and garnished with black pepper. It is a good drink for autumn, winter, and early spring with a warming effect due to the balance of floral, sweetness, citrus, and spice. You can use whatever your favorite gin is, but some suggestions I have are Plymouth, Hendricks, St. George, or Cap Rock.
1 ½ oz Gin
1 oz Laird’s Applejack or Calvados
½ oz St-Germaine Elderflower liqueur
2 drops of Grapefruit Oil, or 1 tsp of zest
2 dashes of Orange Bitters
Black Pepper, ground as garnish
Depending on whether you are using grapefruit oil or zest there are two ways to prepare this cocktail. If using zest, combine that with liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake that fool. Finally pour your cocktail through a strainer. The rule of thumb is that with clear cocktail, like a martini or manhattan, it should be stirred. The idea is that you preserve the clarity. It's all about aesthetics. In this case though, a certain amount of cloudiness from air agitated into the drink still works aesthetically. Another effect is that the pepper will sink to the bottom of the cocktail, so your cocktail starts sweeter and ends spicier. Now if if you are using oil, you can omit that at the mixing stage, and either stir or shake, and add a couple drops before grinding the pepper in. This will give you a nice sheen on top of the drink, and also catch the pepper and keep it the top of the cocktail. This will give you a more consistent spiciness throughout. Either way, serve in a coupe or martini glass.