This gorgeous cocktail combines homemade hibiscus syrup with lime, vodka (or gin), and a few slices of jalapeño and mint. Poured over ice, it’s just what you want on a hot summer day.
I’ve mentioned before that for someone who has lived her entire life on land, I’m extremely concerned about getting scurvy. The fact that my preventative measures always happen to be delicious, tart cocktails is purely just coincidence. Odd that.
Because I’m also concerned about you, dear reader, I’m writing you a prescription* for drink at least two of these cocktails a week, all summer long. You’re welcome.
*I’m not a doctor and you probably (definitely) shouldn’t listen to me.
A million years ago when I lived in Williamsburg (an industrial neighborhood in Brooklyn that has since become incredibly trendy) with my roommate, Paola, we set up a massive garden on the roof of our loft. Being poor artists, we couldn’t afford planters so we used … brace yourselves … caskets. Yes, there was a casket factory across the street and every couple of months, they would throw out dozens of full-size aluminum caskets (for some reason that we never bothered to question). We dragged these crazy things to our roof, filled them with soil, and grew the most amazing herbs and vegetables that ever came out of something meant for a dead person. Of course it must have looked unsettling, all these caskets lined up in rows with plants growing out of them, but we didn’t care. In fact, we had enough sweet Roma tomatoes to make “casket sauce” as we called it (mostly to horrify our dinner guests).
Now I’m a big shot and have a deck and a yard and no longer have to resort to funeral paraphernalia to satisfy my green thumb. This year we’re growing more herbs than ever and for the first time, our sage plant bloomed with the most beautiful purple flowers. Nature, man.
Inspired by this Saveur recipe, we adapted our drink to use the Kumquat-Ginger Syrup instead of a kumquat-infused gin. One benefit is that the syrup can be used as soon as it’s cool, whereas the infusion can take a couple of weeks.
Back when Matt and I lived in Brooklyn (a.k.a. before we moved to Beacon, went insane and thought it would be wise for two freelancers to try and buy a house), we occasionally went to a lovely little restaurant called Buttermilk Channel. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because they inspired our Spiced Pickled Grapes recipe (and I talk about the place constantly to anyone who will listen). It’s not a “fancy” restaurant, but everything is prepared with care and with an eye towards seasonality, including their cocktails. It was through their inventive menu that I began to expand my cocktail palate beyond gin and tonics and margaritas (though I still love both, of course. I’m not a monster).
For me, cocktail perfection is all about balance. I like a little sweetness, but not so much that I feel like I’m sipping dessert. (Matt, an unapologetic prom-drinker, doesn’t always agree with me on that). [Camera swish pans around to reveal Matt drinking Baileys straight from the bottle, a milky dribble glistening on his chin. “You knew what I was when you married me”, he says quietly.]
I want to taste a little kick of alcohol but I don’t want to shake my head a like a teenager chugging Southern Comfort out of a paper bag after every sip.
After extensive (ahem…) research, I have come to believe that fresh grapefruit juice is the best mixer of all time.