Am I really going to introduce a brand new and innovative Margarita recipe today? Nope. Right now you can search any number of food sites and see 60 different ways you can customize your Cinco de Mayo drink. Sometimes it’s hard to feel innovative. However, what I can do for you is make it easy to find all the drinks on THIS site that you might like to have this weekend, since you’re already here.
Let’s just start with last week’s Hibiscus-Tequila Cooler. It’s in a pitcher and no one can tell how many you’ve had until that pitcher is empty.
And then, really, who’s going to say anything?
I bought these sailboat popsicle molds last year with the sole intention of putting some sort of boozy frozen delicacy in them. And then a year went by, and I only just got around to taking them out of the box. And for a private dinner no less! I knew that if I put this post up on April 1st (yesterday) you all would have erroneously assumed it was some kind of practical joke. Sex on the Beach…popsicles?!?! So I thought it best to go up the next day to avoid any confusion with this recipe because it is, in fact, quite tasty.
The “cocktail” was developed after I was hired to make drinks for a private dinner party where the theme was “Seafood, Italian, 80’s Miami a la the Golden Girls”. The sailboats were the amuse course. The next four cocktails were all based on the four Golden Girls (you can check out some of those pics in my Instagram feed). My eyes popped wide open once I realized that I could use the sailboat molds – finally! At first I had thought I’d make a highbrow cherimoya-lime-spicy concoction. But then stopped myself. 80’s Miami? It HAS to be a cocktail riff based on one of those “classics” of the era; so a Sex on the Beach was made and enjoyed by all.
I made a few adjustments to the recipe to start. Cranberry juice is almost never making an appearance in my fridge, so instead I subbed in my homemade grenadine. Same goes with Peach Schnapps. Instead, a fresh peach puree was used in place. A few minor changes took this recipe from meh to ahhh, resulting in a great start to the dinner.
So now I’m sharing the recipe with you all. It’s a taste of the summer to come.
Note: you don’t need to have these sailboats on hand. Any popsicle mold will suffice, but just won’t be as fun.
1/2 ounce grenadine (homemade is always best)
1 ounce peach puree
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce vodka, Aylesbury Duck from the 86 Co. used here
1/4 ounce G.E. Massenez Creme de Cassis
In the bottom of your popsicle mold, pour grenadine in. Freeze to semi-frozen, about 45 minutes.
Mix together peach puree, orange juice and vodka. Pour on top of grenadine. Freeze to semi-frozen, about an hour and a half.
Drizzle creme de cassis on top of peach/O.J./vodka mixture. Add popsicle stick at this point and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours but overnight is best.
To un-mold, squeeze mold to release sides of the popsicle. This should enable you to wiggle the popsicle out. If not, run under warm, NOT hot, water for 5 seconds to help un-mold.
Why not WAY more alcohol? Because then they wouldn’t freeze well. I tried this with one ounce of vodka in the center and it never fully froze to a stable consistency. That said, you can still taste that these have some booze in them because clearly, that’s the point. They do have a nice fruity punch to them with the grenadine working well in contrast with the peach/orange combo. Depending on the creme de cassis you have, this can be left out (some flavors work better than others). Try one with and one without to see for yourself. I tried this with Chambord too but the flavor just didn’t work well here, somehow it became almost medicinal. Also, if you can get a giant seashell filled with ice to display your pops in, you win.
It’s Tuesday, so I bet you’re already thinking about the weekend by this point in the day. So how about a fun DIY project to start planning? That involves doing something with all that winter citrus you have hanging out in your fruit basket? Making bitters might seem like a daunting task, but a lot of it is just sitting around waiting for it to be done already. Kinda like Limoncello (or Tangelocello). And, this recipe yields enough that you can bottle up and give away some as gifts. Those people will think it took you forever, but you don’t have to tell them how easy this is.
My recipe is based off of B.T. Parsons’ recipe found in his essential book on bitters, aptly titled “Bitters“. I made his version last year to the letter and enjoyed the results, however, I found that this year I wanted a version less sweet and delicate, and more bitter with richer citrus notes. So that’s what you’re getting here.
A couple of tips to help you along the way: First, use a vegetable peeler to zest the citrus. Using a light hand while peeling will help keep the pith on the fruit and not on the zest (YOU want to control your bitterness in the recipe, not the fruit). Second, invest in some cheesecloth. A small amount of cheesecloth will go a long way in keeping unwanted particles from entering your final product, and you’ll find plenty of other uses for it in the kitchen. And lastly, if any of these ingredients have you scratching your head, they’re all available online.
Adapted from the book “Bitters” Yields approximately 18 ounces
zest from 4 meyer lemons
zest from 1/2 bitter orange (such as Seville)
zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons dried lemon zest (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon dried orange zest
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon dried ginger (do not use powder, see note on dried citrus)
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander
1/4 teaspoon whole white pepper
4 – 5 dried Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves
3/4 teaspoon gentian root
1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2 cups high proof vodka (I have access to 150 proof everclear in California, however, 100 proof vodka would also work)
1 cup water
To make dried citrus, zest 4-6 large lemons (2 oranges or peel a 1″ nub of ginger and slice). Chop peel and lay on a baking sheet in an oven set at 250°F for 1 hour. Peel should be completely dry but not brittle. Dried lemon zest is also available commercially.
In an airtight container, combine all of the zest, cardamom, ginger, coriander, white pepper, lime leaves, gentian root, and fennel seed. Pour vodka over the ingredients and seal container. Swirl to combine. Keep the container in a cool, dark place for two weeks, swirling mixture once daily. (I find it helps to set a calendar reminder also at this point.)
After two weeks, strain out solids and set aside. Strain liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any particles left and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. In a small sauce pan, combine solids with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boil is reached, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, pour contents of the pan into a separate airtight container and let sit one week.
After a week, strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer. Add to the original liquid that has been set aside. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days and skim off any residue that accumulates at the top. Strain again if there is any leftover sediment and bottle into dropper bottles for storage.
Meyer lemons have a more pronounced floral aroma, as opposed to just a regular lemon, which tends to be more astringent. To pierce the perfumy nature of the meyer lemons, the kaffir lime leaves give a nice punch and aroma, while the bitter orange, fennel and spices create earthy undertones for balance.
I add a few drops to a Gin & Tonic, and they can be used as a sub for recipes using regular lemon bitters. Experiment and see what cocktails work for you!