Cocktails for Fig Cake
August 30, 2011 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Quick one - cocktails to go with a fig cake?

We're having some friends over this afternoon and my wife made an olive oil fig cake. What would be a fun cocktail to go with?

Things we have:
dark rum
various liqueurs, including bitters
a bottle of port
ginger ale, club soda, tonic water, etc
lemons, limes, simple syrup, maraschino cherries, etc.

I can make a liquor store run if needed, but bonus points if it can be made with stuff we already have.

I'm thinking that something bourbon or dark-rum based would be good, or maybe a cocktail with the port (we could also drink the port, I know -- but I think a cocktail would be fun).

Other important information: we're in Seattle and it is somewhat dreary, so I don't feel any need to make the drink particularly "summery".
posted by rossination to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, FYI, Walter is peeing regularly now now. Thank you for the reassurance, AskMe!
posted by rossination at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2011

Sorry for the lack of specifics, but I once had a cocktail consisting of port, Frangelico and Cointreau that was really pretty great, and I bet it would have gone well with a dense, sweet cake.
posted by saladin at 11:03 AM on August 30, 2011

I think a Dark & Stormy would be good -- dark rum and ginger beer. Matches the weather, too.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:20 AM on August 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

An Old-Fashioned would go well with fig cake, I think. Or maybe a pitcher of Manhattans.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:29 AM on August 30, 2011

Dark & Stormy was also my first thought as a matching flavour, uninfluenced by any climate issue (its sunny here, no sign of rain).
posted by biffa at 11:56 AM on August 30, 2011

I have been making quite a few Americanas this summer, as well as a Bourbon Cooler or two. They'd both be pretty great garnished with figs as much as peaches. They were for the cooler nights when gin and tonics seemed too summery, ymmv.
posted by peagood at 12:00 PM on August 30, 2011

You'd need to make a trip to the store, but a Sidecar is the best possible thing I can imagine with fig cake.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:37 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

A decent cognac would be an ideal flavor match for this since cognac has so many complementary flavor components, often including fig, nut, and pastry flavors. Depending on what liqueurs you have, you could go half cognac, half liqueur, with a maraschino cherry and a single drop of bitters. For example Grand Marnier or Cointreau would pair well. A spoonful of the maraschino cherry juice wouldn't hurt. On preview this gets close to crabintheocean's sidecar.

I say dark rum is the next best option for a base with bourbon in third.
posted by Askr at 12:46 PM on August 30, 2011

What kind of port? From googling around for a few ideas, it looks like tawny is the preferred variety.

Also, from googling around, my guess is that you're working off the Martha Stewart fig and olive oil cake, which is a little different from what I first thought of when I thought of a fig cake (I thought more of a fig tart).

So, thinking about the cake: It's going to have a strong fig flavor, which is kind of a dark fruit, and a nuttiness from the olive oil. You're going to want to echo that dark fruitiness without overwhelming it, and you've got to worry about being overpowering. The port is a good thought, but it could get too heavy and sickly in a hurry. A couple recipes that I've seen have used a sparkling white wine on top of either port or sweet vermouth in order to brighten the flavor up some.

It's obviously a bit late to make a real fig liqueur to add to the cocktail, and cherry's kind of a clash here, so I'd be wary of using too much (especially maraschino, which tends toward a chemical taste). I do think you'd be well-served with a little bit of herbs in there, most likely rosemary, because it goes so well with olive oil and figs.

(Honestly, I've been trying to think of some sort of balsamic and blue cheese cocktail, but that could get vile in a hurry.)

My suggestions (play around with proportions to taste):

2 parts port
1 part bourbon
1/2 part sparkling white wine
1/4 part lemon juice
1 sprig rosemary


2 parts bourbon
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part Cointreau/orange liquor
2 dashes bitters
1 dash fresh black pepper
posted by klangklangston at 1:02 PM on August 30, 2011

However dense and rich the cake is, you'll want to pair it with rum and port (gin is only rarely a dessert partner).

Here are a few new and old recipes that I'd try: well, I'd skip straight to the Suburban

(David Wondrich from older sources)
1½ oz ruby port
1½ oz Cognac
½ oz lemon juice
1½ tsp Curacao
Shake with ice, then strain into a cocktail glass.

(Martin Cate of Smugglers' Cove in San Francisco)
2 oz dark rum
½ oz tawny port
½ oz pear liqueur
1-2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
Stir with ice, then strain into cocktail glass.

Hungry Mother #43
(from the Hungry Mother in Boston)
2 oz rye whiskey (or bourbon if you must)
½ oz tawny port
¼ oz or 1 tsp maple syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice, then strain over fresh ice.

(David Wondrich from older sources)
1½ oz rye whiskey
½ oz dark rum
½ oz ruby port
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Stir with ice, then strain into cocktail glass.

Paper Airplane
this would take the pairing tactic of a foil rather than a similarity
(Sam Ross of Milk & Honey in NYC)
¾oz bourbon
¾oz lemon juice
¾oz Campari
¾oz Amaro Nonino
Stir with ice, then strain into cocktail glass.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 1:56 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

This sounds like a time to experiment! My first thought goes less to the alcohol base than the bitters. Fig is a flavor that accommodates spice very well, and so I'd be tempted to build a cocktail with strong spiciness and a warm base. Given your list, I'd first attempt some variation on the Manhattan, using port instead of vermouth and increasing the amount of bitters to compensate for the change. Perhaps 2 parts bourbon to 1 part port, and three dashes of bitters (Try to mix up angostura with orange or something else). Maybe a twist of lemon zest or a rub of lemon peel around the rim of the glass, just to brighten things up a bit.

Actually, that Suburban cocktail described in the post just above this sounds basically like what I was thinking, although I'd be tempted to try more angostura bitters and use more port, less rye. Still with the lemon peel, though.

(Or, y'know, a bottle of Sauternes.)
posted by Schismatic at 2:51 PM on August 30, 2011

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