Guava Drinks

Even though we live in a semi-tropical area, guava isn't a huge part of the Floridian diet. Almost any fruit, especially the astonishingly huge variety of citrus, are used everywhere, but not much guava. I've used the paste for barbecue sauce, but I've only had a surreal experience with the raw fruit. I was horseback riding in the Costa Rican rainforest, when our 17-year-old guide shouted out to a guest: "No no! Don't let him [the horse] eat the guava fruits!" (Guava fruit were dotting the trail for miles and the horses would lunge for them)

"Why? Is it poisonous?" she asked.

"No," he said, "it gives the horses gas. And the stables are right next to the house."

This wouldn't normally bode well for experimenting with tropical fruit, but herbivores and omnivores are two different beasts, and Christey found these thai guava fruits in my favorite produce place. So, since it's August and we may have the outskirts of a hurricane to deal with this week, we decided to play around with some tropical drinks.

Now, I was a bartender in college, but my main gig was a wine and beer pub on campus. My off-campus mixed drink career was limited to college staples like sloe gin fizzes, white russians, the perfect kamikaze, and a few drinks that couldn't be said in polite company.

My roommate and I would experiment with the odd combination to see if we could pull it off. We were on the quest to create a "stoplight" -- a layered drink that was red on top, then yellow, then green on the bottom. I found a pretty good stoplight that was upside-down: midori(green melon) on top, orange juice in the middle, grenadine on the bottom. Not too alcoholic, but it tasted good and the densities made a nice set of layers. The only successful stoplight I made in color was sloe gin (red) on top, orange juice (yellow) and creme-de-menthe (green) sinking to the bottom. Perfectly layered. OhMyGawdAwful in taste.

I felt a little like that with the guava. These days I can make a fabulous vodka martini, and a drop-dead cosmopolitan. But when it comes to new drink creations, I don't think I'm there yet.

In any case, here are two attempts with thai guava fruit. A rum based "Thai Sunset" and a champagne based "Sunrise Mimosa"

I have since found through research that the guava was introduced to Thailand from Europe, and thus, the Thai name for guava is the same name for "foreigner", which causes all sorts of fun puns with the locals when it comes to eating them.

When we were shooting this series, I had never held one in my kitchen however. I had to cut one open and taste a bit to figure out what I was going to try to do.

I've since found out that guavas are sold a little green and should sit out a bit. When I was tasting, the center part with the seeds was a lot sweeter than the part closer to the rind, and since I was trying for a frou-frou tropical drink, I decided to try something with that, even though the meat closer to the rind is what is usually eaten. I got a bit in there as well, though, so it's really a whole-guava experience, even though the Thai would probably laugh at me for culinary reasons as well as linguistic.

I cut a fruit into chunks and tossed in a food processor. After a rough-chop, I added some simple syrup I happened to have (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, simmer, store in the fridge until sometime just before the end of time). The syrup sweetened it up a touch, but the liquid made it easier to process into juice and pulp.

I strained to get rid of the seeds and extra chunky bits

At this point I had a pulpy, juicy sweet concoction of guava. For those not familiar, it tasted a little like kiwi and strawberry, with a little apple texture to it. Maybe because I used the center as well as some parts closer to the rind, it was a little gritty, too. Kinda like a raspberry/kiwi seedy-grittiness, maybe a little like eggplant, too.

I decided to go fully tropical, and added the juice of an orange (valencia, see previous post), and a lime.

Now, I had a really good tasting tropical mix of fruit juices, so I put a bunch of cracked ice in a glass, added a shot of dark rum, and the fruit juice. It was a little too light-brown too look tropical (a hazard of the whiter guava sometimes), so I added a splash of grenadine for color. Garnish with an orange wedge.

I call it a "Thai Sunset" because of the thai guava, and also because it's colored a little like a tequila sunrise.

We actually thought we were done at this point, when I suddenly thought of a different variation. I made Christey set up her lights and camera again ("It's all part of the process!" I said. "Do I have to shoot you tasting the guava again?" she said).

I put the leftover guava-orange-lime juice mixture into the bottom of a champagne glass, added a splash of grenadine, then topped with champagne (ok, sparkling wine). Garnished with a bit of orange rind, I call it "Thai Sunrise" for the similarity to that brunch favorite, the mimosa.

Post Mortem: The guava was too....gritty I guess. I should have strained through cheesecloth or maybe used only the meat near the rind instead of the whole fruit, and perhaps a more ripe guava at that. Still, the taste was really good, exotic even. It was more of a texture thing. Maybe I needed a real juicer.

Also, I used a darker rum for the sunset, and I think the almost molasses taste of it was probably too much (neither Christey nor I could finish it, which I guess says everything right there). It was good, it was just too...dense. Next time, I'd probably use a lighter white rum, or I think the sweetness of the fruit would work really well with a good quality tequila.

The champagne drink was really good, but still a little too gritty for me (Christey finished hers with no complaints). A little more strained, and this would be perfect.

If anyone wants to play around with it, here are the recipes:

Thai Sunset Makes 2 drinks. 1 guava, juiced 1 orange, juiced 1 lime, juiced 1 splash grenadine (each) 2 shots rum (light, or perhaps a good tequila). Put cracked ice in two glasses, pour one shot of rum in each, pour juices over the top, stir briefly, then pour splash of grenadine so that it sinks to bottom. Stir gently once or maybe twice to create sunset look (redder on bottom than top). Garnish with half orange slice.

Thai Sunrise Makes 2 drinks 1 guava, juiced 1 orange, juiced 1 lime, juiced 1 splash grenadine (each) champagne Pour juice mixture into two champagne flutes. Add splash of grenadine so that it sinks to bottom. Top with champagne, which should distribute the color nicely due to its own carbonation.

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