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Ximz

Javier de las Muelas’ cocktail proves that the whole of Andalusia can fit into a Martini glass. If Buñuel were alive he’d try one too.


By:  Lakshmi I. Aguirre
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Dry Martini Frappé
Serving suggestion: this Dry Martini is accompanied with a dash of foie with a caramelised Pedro Ximénez sauce, garnished with flakes of Maldon salt
Stands out for: the simplicity and depth of the cocktail

If you come close enough to the glass you can hear the sound of the Mediterranean, the roar of the bullring and distinctive flamenco rhythms. If you taste what’s inside then your mouth will play host to all the flavours of Andalusia, the warmth of its people and their raucous sense of humour. It is called Ximz, in honour of Pedro Ximénez, the main ingredient in this tribute to the Dry Martini and to Andalusia as a whole.

This is part of the Frappé series of cocktails, all frozen variations on the king of cocktails, the Dry Martini. As well as Ximz there are other cocktails made with wasabi, coffee, forest fruits and truffles. Other types of cocktails include Spoon Martinis, which, as the name suggests, are served on a spoon.

In Spanish cocktail making, Javier de Muelas has literally raised the bar. We jumped at the chance to ask him as many questions as possible. His Dry Martini Bcn, is considered one of the ten best cocktail bars in the world. It was there that we finally tracked him down. And yes, he did give us the recipe.

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Q. Pedro Ximenez is an unusual cocktail ingredient. Was this a challenge for you?

A. The whole Frappé project was a challenge because I was paying tribute to the Dry Martini. These are very precise recipes even though they seem quite simple. Making them look simple is the hardest part. There are so many things that you have to bear in mind. But it was a process I thoroughly enjoyed.

Q. What feelings did you want to evoke with this cocktail?

A. We wanted to pay tribute to the noble ingredient that is Pedro Ximénez and combine it with the king of cocktails, the Dry Martini. You can intuit Andalusia in this drink. A way of understanding the world, flamenco, light. I wanted to pay homage to Andalusia with by introducing the Ximz, and for that reason it’s the sweetest of all the cocktails. It imitates a bullring in its presentation because of the shape of the glass and the orange detailing. It makes a statement.

Q. How much of Ximz is science and how much is intuition?

A. Intuition is fundamental; creativity enables us to have the idea. After that you need a technique and a method. An idea that is never developed is just a question mark. In a nutshell, a cocktail is intuition, technique and method.

Q. If the Mojito is the taste of Cuba, and the Margarita the taste of Mexico, is Ximz the taste of Andalusia?

A. Absolutely. We wanted to maximise its Andalusian identity each time we presented it in London and Berlin. We played Tu Mirá by Lole y Manuel in the background.

Q. When would you have a Ximz?

A. In actual fact, Ximz can be enjoyed at any time of day. It is quite a versatile cocktail. Right now I’m talking to you and I really fancy one! It has a very Andalusian character mixed with sweetness, sobriety and class.

Q. In your experience, do you think customers still prefer traditional cocktails or are they keen to try new things?

A. I don’t know what is going on in other cocktail bars. I just know what’s happening in mine. I think people are following our lead and they enjoy the updated classics. Often it’s just a case of decorating the glass, or adding a bit of colour. Outside Spain, the world of cocktails is incredible. In Miami, London, Singapore, New York, Rome, and Paris people are sipping cocktails at midday on a terrace as an aperitif. They even have cocktails with their meals instead of wine.

Q. Do you think that cocktails have reached heights that cooking reached some time ago?

A. My team and I would like cocktails to be on a paar with gastronomy. We want to transform cocktail making into something sublime. But this is slow process. It is not only the product that is important, the glasses are important, the ice, everything that is associated with it, even the music that goes with each cocktail.

Q. What is the role of women in the world of cocktails?

A. When women began to appear in this industry, the stereotype of the pot-bellied man smoking Havana cigars disappeared. The concept began to change and an alternative world of lighter, martini-style cocktails began to emerge. Important cocktails like the Cosmopolitan would never have been invented if women hadn’t begun to take an interest in them.

Q. Thanks to Buñuel, many amateurs decided to try their hand at cocktail making. What do you think of the way he made a Dry Martini?

“Allow me to share my own personal recipe which has been perfected after many years of experience and has always received quite a few compliments. I put everything I need in the fridge, glasses, gin, and the cocktail shaker, the day before I am expecting my guests. I have a thermometer so that I can check if the ice is around minus twenty degrees. The next day when my friends arrive I take everything out that I need. First of all, I pour a few drops of Noilly Prat over very cold ice and half a teaspoon of coffee, Angostura bitters and shake well. Then I pour away the liquid, keeping only the ice that is left behind, which is now slightly perfumed from the ingredients. I pour pure gin over that ice, shake and serve. That´s it! The result is unbeatable”.

A. This is an excellent way to do it. We do it in exactly the same way but with olives. He was really ground breaking, a true genius. His ‘Buñueloni’ [a personal variation on the Negroni] is fantastic. I have written several articles about him.

Q. If Buñuel’s cocktail was the Dry Martini and Deborah Kerr’s was the champagne cocktail, then which is Javier de las Muelas’ cocktail?

A. Dry Martini. It’s not just the finished article; it’s the lifestyle that surrounds it. It is a cocktail with a worldwide influence. You can find it everywhere and it’s a cocktail that really brings people together. It’s a very dry drink. ecause of that there are so many variations. I like the Dirty Martini served with olive brine. I even serve some cocktails with a clam or oyster. It’s a case of adding to the cocktail, not taking away.

Q. Each cocktail has its own ritual and tempo. José Luis Garci says that the heart rate can influence the way a cocktail is shaken and that the barman’s mood can affect the way the magic mixture comes together and how it tastes in the end. Do you agree with this statement? Is Ximz a cocktail you should only make when you’re in a good mood?

A. I completely agree with this. I was given the chance to meet him and work with him on presentations. Garci is a genius and his book Beber de Cine is my bible. Ximz should be attempted when you feel like you are actually in Andalusia. When you understand how to move like the Andalusians. To smile constantly.

Q. What surprises do you have in store?

A. I am working on some non-alcoholic cocktails made with vegetables. I am using a lot of tomatoes, and getting inspiration from gazpacho for example. I am also working on promoting brandy, in order to establish a cocktail culture like that of France, where they use a lot of cognac. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.

Recipe: El Ximz

1. Infuse 5/6 parts Bombay gin with orange peel in a bottle in a bain marie for 5 hours.

2. Combine 30-year old Pedro Ximénez, the remaining sixth part of this cocktail, with lots of ice in a cocktail shaker. Mix together and pour the mixture into the bottle with the gin. Place in the freezer at minus 25ºC. If you are making this at home, minus twelve degrees should be cold enough.

3. When it’s frozen, remove and shake so that the ice begins to break up when you have to pour it into the Martini glass.

Ingredients


  • Ximz
    1/6 parts of 30-year-old Pedro Ximénez
    5/6 parts Bombay Original gin
    Orange peel
    Ice

  • Video


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    2 comments

    Pon tu propia imagen con Gravatar
    El 14 June 2009 a las 7:41 PM, Margaret Simons dijo...

    I tried this cocktail in Barcelona and it was absolutely delicious. Thank you for the recipe. Now I can try to make it at home.


    Pon tu propia imagen con Gravatar
    El 14 June 2009 a las 7:42 PM, Mike White dijo...

    Please publish more recipes for cocktails! I tried this at home and it was a complete hit. Thank you!



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