What the hell is verjuice and what is it doing in my fridge? Well, cocktail snobs, you should know the answer already so run away with your tail between your legs. Everyone else, here's an explanation on this increasingly popular liquid used in gastronomical arts.
If you put verjuice (or verjus) in a glass and took a swig, you'd spit it out all over your nice clean white shirt and the kitchen floor. (You should know better than to wear white in the kitchen.) Verjuice is a non-alcoholic juice pressed from unripe grapes. It is best described as sour or acidic, and most commonly is used in place of vinegar or cooking wine.
We recently got our hands on a bottle of local verjuice, called Verjooz, made by Sawmill Creek Vineyards and Red Newt Winery. The flavor and mouthfeel remind me of a seriously tart picked-way-too-early apple.
On the web, there's a few cocktail recipes containing verjuice, including a video of this slick guy who accentuates the French pronunciation (ver-JOO) and shakes his cocktail shaker one-handed. Ooooo, I'm so impressed. In general, verjuice seems to be used in drinks when you want a touch of sour.
Leah and I brought some Verjooz to the Lounge and asked Lil' Claire if she could pair it with Finger Lakes Distilling's Seneca Drums gin. She came up with a cocktail that we're calling the Tropical Locavore Gin and Tonic (until someone comes up with a better name - suggestions?). Lychee juice combined with the apple-ish flavor of Verjooz complements the subtle earthy notes of Seneca Drums gin.
Now if we could just grow lychees in the Finger Lakes...
Tropical Locavore Gin and Tonic
1 and 1/2 ounces of Seneca Drums gin
3/4 ounce lychee juice (OR sub 1/2 ounce St. Germaine elderflower liqueur)
1/4 ounce of Verjooz
Fill a rocks glass with ice and add gin, lychee and Verjooz. Top with tonic water.
Editor's note 3/9/10: We've been taste-testing at the Lounge, and we're definitely favoring the St. Germaine over the lychee juice.
Click here to find out where you can buy Verjooz and to find recipes for cooking with verjuice.