I'm fairly new to the west coast. So, foraging for mushrooms is a concept that's new to me as well. While talking with Dave Padberg, our chef de cuisine, he mentioned that it is an annual event for him to make chanterelle vodka with mushrooms that he's foraged himself, here in Oregon. Dave described the vodka as having an earthy and very unique flavor. A vodka good for drinking on the rocks.
A few weeks later, our other bartender, Nic Peterson, had gone chanterelle hunting and had returned with a copious amount of chantrelles, even more then he could use. Nic wanted to infuse vodka with his chantrelle excess, and we did just that.
To begin, you'll want to clean the mushrooms very well. We mixed about 3lbs of chantrelle mushrooms, of any size, that had been halved or quartered, with about 6 liters of vodka. For this recipe, an inexpensive, good quality vodka will do. We use Gordon's.
Let the vodka sit for about 3 weeks. While we let our vodka rest, The chantrelles changed vastly in size. At first, they were so plump they took up more space than the vodka. Eventually, the mushrooms shrank, and continued to shrink. The final state of the mushrooms wasn't the most visually appealing sight, more like a failed science experiment. But, if nothing else it was a great conversation starter.
Once we had our finished product, it was time to start experimenting. When conceptualizing this drink, I wanted to keep it very simple. I wanted the earthy, savory quality of the mushrooms shine through. I thought this vodka really lent itself to a martini style drink. My initial thought was to swap out the vermouth for sake. Many sakes have wonderful qualities that work very well in cocktails. I was hoping to find one that would pair nicely with our vodka. After experimenting with several sakes, I decided that it just wasn't going to work. I went back to basics. I immediately thought of a white martini. A martini that uses the sweeter blanc vermouth, as opposed to regular french or dry vermouth. The result is an extemely savory martini, with the mysterious and unmistakable flavor of chanterelles. The lemon oils expressed over top adds a brightness that makes this drink pop.
After The Rain
1.5 oz Chanterelle infused Vodka
1.5 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
Combine vodka and vermouth in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir well until the drink is nice and cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass, express the oils from the lemon peel over top of the drink, and discard the lemon peel.
One final note, we only have a few more bottles left so come in and try this cocktail while you still can.