By Bill Daley, Tribune Newspapers
2:17 PM EDT, May 9, 2013
When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, or so the adage goes. The clever tippler knows to take that pragmatic advice one step further: Give those lemons a twist — be it a clever garnish, an unexpected flavor pairing or, even, a bright shot of alcohol. Try these festive drinks and life will seem a whole lot easier pretty quickly.
Fete de l'ete (Summer party)
Makes: 1 cocktail
Note: From Lynn M. House, chief mixologist at Blackbird restaurant in Chicago. The drink can be made with or without alcohol.
2 ounces lemon vodka
1 1/2 ounces basil syrup, see method below
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce cucumber juice, see note below
1 egg white
Garnishes: Thin slices cucumber and lemon
Combine all ingredients, except the garnishes, in a mixing glass; shake first without ice. Then add ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with lemon and cucumber slices.
Basil syrup: Steep 1/4 pound fresh basil leaves in 1 cup hot water, 20 minutes; strain, reserving the water, discarding the leaves. Make a syrup by combining 1 cup basil water with 1 1/2 cups sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Refrigerate, up to 2 weeks.
Cucumber juice: Puree 1 diced seedless cucumber with 1 cup ice water in a blender. Double strain the juice before using. Refrigerate, up to 3 days.
Adagio for summer
Makes: 12 servings
Note: Craig Schoettler, formerly executive chef beverage director at The Aviary in Chicago, recommends a punch rather than separate drinks. "It'll be great for summer parties and barbecues,'' he says. Schoettler calls for Paul Beau VS cognac, Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old bourbon, Smith & Cross Jamaica rum and Pierre Ferrand dry curacao in this recipe. You may sub with other brands.
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, sliced
2 bottles (750 milliliters each) chardonnay, Burgundian-style
9 ounces lemon shrub, see recipe below
3 ounces each: cognac, bourbon
1 1/2 ounces each: dark rum, dry orange curacao
2 bottles (750 milliliters each) Champagne or other sparkling wine
2 bottles (1 liter each) seltzer
1. Peel the oranges. Put the peels in a large, sealable container; muddle them with the sugar. Let sit overnight at room temperature; add the pineapple. Muddle thoroughly.
2. Juice the peeled oranges in a juicer. (Or use a blender: Remove any seeds. Place orange segments in blender. Process until liquefied.) Add unstrained juice to pineapple/sugar mixture. Stir until dissolved. Strain. Add wine, lemon shrub, cognac, bourbon, rum and curacao. Combine well.
3. Place a block of ice in a large punch bowl or other serving container. (Schoettler likes filling a 4-quart container with water and freezing overnight to make a massive block.) Pour in the punch mixture; top with sparkling wine and seltzer before serving.
Lemon shrub: Peel 6 lemons. Muddle peels with 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large container; let sit overnight at room temperature. Add 1 1/2 cups water; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes: 1 cocktail
A cocktail developed by Briar Brackney when she was beverage director at Vincent restaurant in Chicago, along with Michael Bransford, Vincent's owner. Now manager and beverage director at Dale Levitski's new Frog n Snail Restaurant, Brackney prefers Right gin from Sweden for this drink. It has "a bold peppery flavor that is beautiful with lemon," she says. Use it or your favorite dry gin. She calls for Bittermens Citron Sauvage liqueur for its bitter grapefruit note; use Campari or Aperol as a substitute. Brackney also uses Bittermens Orange Cream Citrate for its concentration and complexity, but any orange bitters could be used. The hibiscus flavored simple syrup can be omitted if necessary.
2 ounces gin
1 ounce hibiscus simple syrup, see recipe below
3/4 ounce grapefruit liqueur
Juice of 1 lemon
3 drops orange bitters
Pour all the ingredients except the lemon twist into a pint glass filled with ice. Top with water; stir until drink is blended. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Hibiscus simple syrup: Combine 2 cups each water and sugar with 1/4 pound dried hibiscus flowers (generally found in spice stores and ethnic markets) in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the sugar dissolves. Transfer the syrup to a heat safe container; cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, up to 1 week.
This cocktail-making term means to mash ingredients together gently, to extract their flavors, with a muddler, a cocktail tool, usually wood, that looks rather like a small baseball bat. Use a strong wooden spoon if you have no muddler.
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