Spring has sprung! Well, if you live in San Francisco it hasn’t so much sprung as it has poked its wee nose out of the door to see what’s going on. I, however, have decided to throw off the vestiges of the dreary, cold winter. Towards that end, I’m done with the stodginess of wine, champers, nogs & ales and have turned my thoughts to pretty fruitilicious cocktails.
A good fruit cocktail generally includes four things:
- Fruit juice (I buy freshly squeezed or make my own)
- Simple syrup
- Good liquor
- Crushed ice (I love me some crushed ice)
I’m going to walk you through two drinks (one with alcohol and one without) that use a combination of these four ingredients.
Watermelon and Cucumber G&Ts (adapted from Cookling Light, July 2009)
1 mini seedless watermelon, rind removed and chunked up in big bits
1 english cucumber, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 handful of fresh mint, washed and dried
Juice from 2 lemons
2.5 cups tonic water
1.25 cups gin (preferably Hendrick’s)
Put some of the watermelon and cucumber with some of the mint and juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Meanwhile place a strainer over a bowl. Place cheesecloth (or paper towels, in a pinch) into the strainer. Pour the blended mixture into the cheesecloth-lined strainer and let it hang out. Keep making batches of the mixture and straining until you’ve used up all of the first four ingredients. Pour the strained mixture into a pitcher and place in the fridge to chill. You can do this up to a day ahead.
At cocktail o’clock on a sunny day, combine 2.5 cups of the juice with the same amount of tonic and 1.25 cups of Hendrick’s (feel free to use a splash more if you are feelin’ frisky) in a large pitcher. Swirl a wooden spoon around the vessel a few times to ensure the mixture is well-blended. Pour into old-fashioned glassed filled with crushed ice. Place on a pretty tray and transfer to a sunny patio with a good view ASAP. Enjoy!
Juice from a boatload of limes (key limes are great to use)
To make limeade, pour some lime juice into a tall glass and add a lil bit of simple syrup (I generally start with a tablespoon for one glass) and add sparkling water to fill the glass 2/3 of the way. Swirl a spoon around to mix thoroughly. Now taste it. Like it as is? Toss in some crushed ice. Too sweet? Add more lime juice. Not sweet enough? Add more simple syrup. Too too? Add more sparkling H2O.
How to make simple syrup: 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup water in a small sauce pan with tall sides. Place over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture is clear (generally 3 to 5 minutes). Pull of the heat and let cool. Place in an airtight jar in the fridge (can keep up to a month).
TIP: You can make flavored simple syrup by having yummy things steep in your cooked syrup. I add lime rind, jalapeños, rosemary, mint, etc… into the syrup after I take it off the heat and let it hang out to cool. Once cooled, I run the lot of it through a china cap, discard the flavorings, and place the syrup in the jar.
BONUS recipe: I’ve only made Tequila Tamarindo cocktails once but they are TASTY. I recommend making the tamarind puree and ginger syrup a day or so before.
Are you inspired to try your hand at springtime cocktailing? Just remember freshly squeezed juices, simple syrup, good liquor, and crushed ice (it really makes a difference).
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