Just last night I read about Erik Ellestad who is working through all 888 of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Check out his blog, the Underhill Lounge to see all the madness! I’m not that ambitious, but I can also live through his experiences to find ones of my own. He has become a focal point for mixology, cocktail history and is well known personality in a revival of craft cocktails that are more interesting than the same old tricks almost every bartender seems to know. The article and lots of other interesting stuff was in the most recent issue of Imbibe magazine.
On the 4th we rolled on over to Ed & Jim’s for their annual Independence Day BBQ. We have partied with them and their friends before, many of whom are “our people” as I often say to Margot when we meet food and beverage obsessed folks. I decided that I would pack a bar into the cooler and do some mixology and live recipe development while we kicked back and had fun. With an audience interested in trying anything I figured I would get some excellent feedback.
I packed the cooler with the following:
- Ice (of course)
- Dry Vermouth
- Hand-infused cranberry vodka
- Hand-infused basil vodka
- Hand-infused lavender syrup (2:1, with handful of lavender steeped within for 3 days)
- Lime juice
- Blueberry / Pomegranate juice
- Simple syrup (2:1)
My plan was to make three different drinks and potentially some variations of each based on the feedback. The theme with the flavors was assertive fruit flavors and nice crisp acidity to quench thirst on a hot day.
- Lavender Martini
- Basil Vodka Gimlet
- Cranberry Vodka Cosmo
The immediate reaction was that it was too sweet. I even thought so. I moved on to the Cosmo knowing I would be back to the lavender recipe shortly.
The Cosmo included 1 part cranberry vodka, 1 part triple-sec, ½ part blueberry/pomegranate juice and a splash of lime juice. Same drill; assemble, mix and strain. This one hit with flying colors. Just the right amount of sweet and plenty of tartness from the cranberry, blueberry and pomegranate. I made several more batches of these before moving on. The last picture below is of this drink.
I got back to the lavender martini and swapped in gin for the vodka, reduced the lavender syrup to ½ part and kept the vermouth as it was. Bingo! I like the botanicals in gin so this one was more complex and exciting for me. I could see sticking with the vodka and keeping the syrup reduction for a less assertive and clean tasting drink. I didn’t make it that way because nobody asked.
The basil vodka was created using ½ of a 1.75 L bottle of Smirnoff 100 and a handful of sweet basil from my garden. I placed the washed basil in a canning jar with the vodka, closed it and shook it twice daily for 4 days. Once I felt I had a good flavorful infusion I strained off the basil and put the vodka in a clean wine bottle with a reusable cork stopper. The cranberry vodka was made using a similar process and the other half of the bottle of vodka, except that it was left to sit for 25 days, shaken twice per day. Infusion times for various ingredients’ vary and using high proof vodka is recommended for the best flavor extraction.
I found an article at bexhuff.com with some good tips on vodka infusions.
I have some additional infusions in mind including black pepper and vanilla. My jalapeno wine is almost ready as well, and I think that will fit prominently into my ongoing mixology adventures.