Classic (Game) Cocktail of the Week: The Mana Tree
Begin your weekend by communing with nature.
Some people like to unwind over the weekend by listening to favorite podcasts; others prefer to relaxing with an alcoholic libation. We figure: Why not both? With the Classic (Game) Cocktail column, we'll offer weekly recommendations on cocktail recipes to accompany our most recent podcast episode.
Disclaimer: Please drink responsibly, and only if you are of legal age (or have permission).
Classic (Game) Cocktail #3: The Mana Tree
We looked back at Super NES classic Secret of Mana (and its precursor, Final Fantasy Adventure) on this week's episode. It's a series about the power of nature, and the plotlines usually revolve around the almighty Mana Tree. Fittingly, the prevailing color within the Mana series is green. In honor of that theme, I've slightly modified a classic cocktail whose innate hue (and flavor) might put you in mind of the late Hiro Isono's gorgeous painted illustrations, which often accompanied many of the older games.
Called the Mana Tree, this cocktail makes a few minor tweaks to the classic Last Word to make it even more evocative of forests, with the addition of a fragrant herb and a gin that's heavy on pine flavor. Don't be alarmed if you suddenly find yourself unable to get Hiroki Kikuta's music out of your head as you sip this drink.
- 1 part St. George's Mt. Tam Terroir gin, or other pine-heavy gin*
- 1 part maraschino liqueur
- 1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 part Chartreuse
- 3 fresh basil leaves, washed
- 1 dried hibiscus flower (for optional garnish)
Place the basil leaves in a cocktail shaker and gently crush them with a cocktail muddler. Take care not to shred or disintegrate the leaves; you're just trying to release the aroma and flavor. Add ice, then pour in all other ingredients. Shake vigorously until cold, then pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a dried hibiscus flower.
The Last Word is a classic cocktail that relies on the complex balance its four primary ingredients, and you don't want to mess with that too much. All I've done here is add a hint of fragrant basil and push the juniper/pine flavor forward slightly with the gin selection. You can use a standard dry gin and ditch the basil if you just want a regular Last Word.
- You may end up with a few tiny fragments of basil in your drink from the process of shaking the cocktail mixer, as in a mojito. They'll float on the drink's surface and you won't even notice them as you sip. But, if the sight of them bothers you, you can either stir (rather than shake) the drink, or you can pour it through a cheesecloth.
- You don't have to use Mt. Tam Terroir gin specifically; it's simply my personal favorite choice among piney, juniper-heavy gins. A little internet research for pine-forward gins can help you find an alternate selection.
- The hibiscus flower isn't necessary. I added one to mine because the flower slowly bleeds a bit of its red coloration into the cocktail as it becomes saturated with liquid, and the pink-on-green reminds me of the birds Isono often painted into his Mana illustrations (which were so beautifully animated on Secret of Mana's title screen).
- One of the more unusual traits of the Last Word cocktail is the fact that it requires equal measures of its ingredients. This makes it easy to adjust portions for a smaller cocktail, or to scale up for serving a group. I recommend starting with 1 oz. of each ingredient and going from there.
- Next week, we'll venture away from gin-based drinks. Please look forward to it.