Friends, it’s summertime. I am down in Texas this week trying not to melt as I make plans and preparations for fall gardening and an impending chicken coop (stay with me for that adventure).
Did you know that Vietnamese culture is very prevalent down here? Vietnamese is actually the third most spoken language behind English and Spanish. So I was noodling on a new cocktail idea and thought to combine some ingredients that would really represent the Gulf Coast region: basil used in Vietnamese cooking, lime juice, Tajín, Topo Chico and Western Son Gulf Coast Lime vodka.
I often refer to beverages as “summery” and this one is a summer super star. Bottoms up my lovelies!
WHAT YOU NEED:
1 ounce of fresh lime juice
1 1/2 – 2 ounces Western Son Gulf Coast Lime Vodka
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 tsp. agave nectar
6-8 leaves of Thai basil
6 mint leaves
1 tsp. Tajín
In a rocks tumbler muddle the herbs vigorously. Add the top four ingredients. Put some ice in a shaker. Add the ingredients of the tumbler to the shaker and SHAKE IT!
In a saucer drag the teaspoon of Tajín into a little line. Use one of your spent lime rinds to wet the outer perimeter of your rocks tumbler. Coat the wet area in the Tajín.
Add fresh ice to the glass. Pour the contents of the shaker into the glass and top with Top Chico.
I’m about to knock your stockings off with a donkey kick to the palate with my Holiday Mule.
Do you know what a pomander is? It’s when you take an orange and shove cloves in its skin in a decorative way. We used to make them when I was a kid. Very aromatic. This was my inspiration for this beverage.
Here’s what you need:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole cloves
Combine water, sugar, and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. While that’s cooking, use a vegetable peeler to take the outer skin off the orange.
At the end of the 20 minutes, add the orange peel to the saucepan and remove from heat. Allow to steep and cool. Reserve a peel or two for garnish. Strain the solids out of the syrup once cool.
Fill your mule glass with ice. A traditional mule is copper with a handle. I found this ridiculously cute one at Pier One Imports.
To the ice add:
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce cooled clove-orange syrup
1 ounce fresh orange juice (if not using fresh, reduce to 1/2 ounce)
2 ounces ginger beer**
3 ounces club soda
dash of orange bitters
**ginger beer has no alcohol. Make this kid and Designated Driver friendly by simply eliminating the vodka.
Swirl with a spoon to get everything happily married. Toss a reserved orange peel on top and chug-a-lug from that sweet copper mug!
I’m certain this will become one of your holiday staples.
Yeah, I know. You’re thinking, “What in the hell has he titled this beverage?” Vaccinium is the term for a species of low bushes that yield the delicious, tart cranberry. And you know what a vaccination is. Consider this cocktail a vaccination from your loud mouth brother-in-law or cousin that’s coming to Thanksgiving dinner and going to talk politics and conspiracy theories all day. Just simply look at your spouse or significant other, or perhaps a worldly child relative, and say, “Babes, I need another VAV.” See, an acronym there.
In all seriousness, though, this bad boy is not too sweet and really tasty. I auditioned it before a room of sophisticates and got the thumbs up.
Here’s what you need:
Cranberry syrup – in a small saucepan, combine 1 cup cranberries with 1 cup orange juice. Bring to a boil and simmer till all the berries pop. Take a potato masher and smash ’em good. Run the mixture through a wire strainer, dispensing with the leftover solids. Tah dah, cranberry syrup.
Cinnamon syrup – in a small saucepan ( I know, you want to hit me with a small saucepan because this is already too much work), combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Add 5 cinnamon sticks that you’ve broken up a bit with a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin. Bring to a boil. Simmer ten minutes and then let steep and cool. Strain the cinnamon sticks out. Tah dah, cinnamon syrup.
Lillet (pronounced li-lay, a French aperitif wine, relatively easy to find)
Perrier lemon flavor
Fresh cranberries for garnish
In a shaker or jar or whatever, combine 1 oz cranberry syrup, 1 oz cinnamon syrup, 1 oz Lillet, and 2 oz of Vodka. Swirl it around. Pour into a rocks glass over ice. It better be square ice. You know I don’t like misshapen ice cubes. Top with Lemon Perrier. Toss in 3 cranberries. Voila!
This is the PERFECT beverage to serve at your cocktail parties or family gatherings this time of year. I mean, one sip and your leaves might change color. I don’t know what exactly that means; use your imagination.