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"People have this misconception of hops," says Sam Ruppert. "Every time they hear the word, they think bitter, but hops impart so many flavors in beer that people don't even realize." So when Autumn Eytalis (BellyQ) challenged Ruppert, a bartender at DryHop Brewers, to create a cocktail with hops, he set out to showcase their flavor without the bitterness.
To accomplish this goal, Ruppert made a simple syrup by cooking the hops sous vide with sugar and water. "If you keep hops below boiling you can release all their flavor oils without getting all that bitterness," he says. "The sous vide is a minor version of the giant boil kettle you see in a brewery."
He made sure to keep the sous vide temperature low, noting that below a certain temperature, hops release oils that add flavor but not bitterness. In a beer, Ruppert notes, you need bitterness because you're balancing out the sweetness of the malts also used in the brew, but for this drink he wanted to eliminate it as much as possible.
"I knew I wanted to use something tropical and citrusy, not the superbitter route, like your classic American-style hop that's very piney," he says. He settled on the Galaxy hop, then started to consider what cocktail would highlight rather than hide its flavor. The daiquiri, he says, is one of his favorite three-ingredient cocktails, and puts the hops front and center.
For the spirit, he used Casa Magdalena—a Guatemalan white rum he describes as earthy and grassy—along with lemon juice and the hop syrup. "I can't take all the bitterness out," he says. "On the palate, you will get citrusy, you will get tropical, but you will still get some of that piney, earthy bitterness going on there too. Definitely if you smell the cocktail, you're going to be, like, that smells like a beer."
Ruppert was happy enough with the cocktail that he's offering it as a special at DryHop from February 6 to 9; there's a release party on Tue 2/6 starting at 5 PM and continuing all evening.