On Saturday morning, my mom came home with a pineapple.
“You said you wanted to make pineapple drinks,” she said.
I thought she must have been confusing me with my sister, Jill. See, on Friday night, when we all arrived at the beach house, I was told that Jill’s new favorite cocktail was vodka with pineapple juice. Not margaritas, not mojitos, not gin fizzes. And indeed, when I opened the freezer, there was vodka. When I pulled out the drawer stuffed with chips and s’more ingredients, there sat six cans of pineapple juice.
Obviously, I teased Jill. “What are you, 16?” I said. Because nothing masks the taste of alcohol better than pineapple juice, as Jill seemed to have discovered. Earlier that week I had had a similar conversation–in the context of frat-party jungle juice. And unlike teenagers, we adults are supposed to like the taste of alcohol, at least sort of, even if we usually mask it with mint or lemon or tea.
Anyway, I took that fresh pineapple and determined to show my family that we could have pineapple cocktails that were sophisticated.
In went pineapple, blended until smooth. In went mint and lime, muddled with some sugar. In went vodka, seltzer, and ice.
And then, the determination: this is the best cocktail I’ve ever had, said Callie, Jill’s friend. She didn’t just mean that you couldn’t taste the vodka all that much. She deemed my fresh pineapple cocktail light, fresh, and tasty.
So, after my favorite pop star Katy Perry (anyone seen her movie? We can’t quite bring ourselves to!), and after those cans of liquor-masking pineapple juice, this drink is the Teenage Dream: a bright, foamy cocktail that totally delivers.
Teenage Dream (a Pineapple-Vodka Cocktail)
Makes 6 cocktails
1 small pineapple
4 sprigs mint
3 limes, quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups vodka
2 limes, juiced
About 3 cups seltzer
Mint and pineapple for garnish
Core and trim the pineapple. Cut 3 thin slices, halve them so they look like half moons, and reserve for garnish. Cut the rest into chunks. Blend for 2-3 minutes until frothy and smooth. Strain through a sieve to remove the woody strands. 1 small pineapple should yield about 2 cups of juice.
In a wide-mouthed pitcher or a mixing bowl, muddle the mint and quartered limes with sugar. I don’t have an official muddler or anything, but a sturdy wooden spoon or potato masher should do. The goal is to break up both the limes and mint and dissolve the sugar. The mint should be fragrant by the time muddling is done; the limes should have given off lots of juice; the sugar should be basically dissolved. Add 2 cups of fresh pineapple juice, juice of 2 more limes, and the vodka. Stir.
Fill lowball glasses with ice. Pour about 1/2 cup pineapple-lime-vodka mixture into each glass (should be about half full). Top with seltzer. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a few extra mint leaves. Taste for balance of flavors, adding more vodka if you’d like to taste it.