cocktail Archives

Strawberry Gimlets with Homemade Strawberry Vodka

Strawberry Gimlets | Big Girls Small Kitchen

Make this right now. No, not to drink right now. There’s no instant gratification (or morning drinking) here. But if you want to be sipping these bright red drinks before linking arms, belting patriotic songs, and admiring at the fireworks on July 4th, you’ll have to start now.

That’s because this is no ordinary gimlet. I took a deep dive into DIY terrain and infused my own plain vodka with strawberry tops. After two weeks in my pantry, my little jar of booze had turned a deep pink, the once-fresh strawberries gone limp and their color dimmed as they donated their flavor and hue to the vodka. And so, 14 days after I started this project, I was ready to mix a drink.

I knew I wanted something simple after waiting so long (despite doing so little–infusing alcohol is surprisingly easy).

A gimlet normally requires nothing more than vodka (or gin), lime, and sugar. The generous amount of lime makes the drink taste like a sour, rather than a cocktail simply finished with a mere squeeze of citrus. Since I was already perverting the gimlet’s purity with berry vodka, I added a second dose of strawberry by muddling a few berries from a fresh pint with sugar–the berries, for me, really round out the drink’s flavor. After the muddling, the instructions include: pouring vodka, squeezing limes, and straining. Easy. Two drinks are ready for toasting to the U.S.A.!

Bloody Marys for a Crowd

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On Sundays, when cocktail hour rewinds several clicks from 5 o’clock to noon, you can find me in my kitchen mixing Bloody Marys.

As you know, I’m exploring the stories and sharing recipes for quarter-life cocktails here on BGSK, thanks to Stoli Vodka, sponsor of my Cocktail Hour series. (As you follow along here, I hope you’ll also check out Stoli’s facebook page and twitter feed, and visit the Taste channel over at ORGNL.TV, which celebrates one-of-a-kind places, people, experiences–and food.) Next up: the brunch specialty, hangover-curing Bloody Marys.

I drink Bloody Marys on exactly two occasions: out at restaurant brunches and home, when we have friends over for brunch. (How to host brunch.) And when we have people over for brunch, we usually seem to have a crowd. So I thought I’d tell you about the routine I’ve created to mix up not one or two drinks, but a dozen or more.

First of all, the Bloody Mary is a cocktail best made to suit your personal taste. Love hot sauce? Dab it in. Want more brine? Bring on the pickle juice and garnish with olives. Are you really a mermaid? Make a Clamato. If your pantry is bare, you can make a minimal Bloody Mary with fewer fixings that you’d imagine. In my book, the essentials are horseradish and celery, plus tomato juice and Stoli vodka, of course. 

So the recipe isn’t hard or anything. But to make Bloody Marys for a crowd, you have to be willing to make a mess. Several transfers of liquid are involved, which means tomato juice dripping all over the kitchen. The important thing is that this can all happen ahead of time, so the counter is neat when your guests arrive.

Recipe Flash: Homemade Ginger Ale

Other Homemade Drinks: Lemonade, Spiked or Sober; Iced Chai Tea Latte

I didn’t grow up with many processed foods. My mother rarely brought me to the actual supermarket, and, when she did, it was one big tease. Head down, I would walk by the Gushers and the Oreos and the Dunkeroos–the staples of my friends’ houses–and follow my mother to the frozen vegetable section. But later on, outside her supervision, when I came into contact with these junk food items, especially at my friend Anna’s house, I would Go. To. Town.

The one loophole I found in sugary, supermarket aisle bliss was Canada Dry ginger ale. Perhaps it was because the name featured an ingredient from the produce section, but my mom made an exception when it came to this soda. I would plow through one bottle in a sitting–usually, within 5 minutes of walking in the door from school. At that rate, it must have felt like her grocery shopping became a never-ending process of seeing how many heavy green bottles she could carry into the house in one trip.

In college, when I was actually the one paying for Sam’s Club boxes of ginger ale, it became more of a treat. And by the time I moved into my first NYC apartment, it had gone the same way as other unnecessary frivolous purchases, like that seventh type of mustard, designer mascara, and haircuts. But thanks to our recent SodaStream Soda Maker Giveaway, I finally got the inspiration I needed to drink ginger ale the budget-friendly, better way: by making it myself! I am thrilled to share this recipe with my fellow ginger ale-oholics. The flavor, with that intense, nose-crinkling gingery taste, is definitely closer to what you’ll find at expensive health food stores, not the old supermarket aisle. And if you manage to polish off the whole batch in one sitting, all you have to do is get off your butt and make more.

Of course, I’ve also included a big kid way to enjoy this soda, with the addition of a little gin. I would not recommend drinking this version in one sitting.

From my kitchen, chugging ginger ale, to yours,

Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

Homemade Thyme and Ginger Ale
Makes about 6 drinks

1 cup peeled, sliced ginger root
5 sprigs thyme (plus more for garnish)
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 quart sparkling water
2 limes, quartered (plus more for garnish)

In a small saucepan, bring the ginger, thyme, sugar, and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes. Either strain the liquid into a 2-cup measure, or use a slotted spoon to remove the ginger slices and thyme sprigs. Discard the thyme, and save the ginger for garnish. You should have about 1 ½ – 1 ¾ cup of ginger syrup.

Fill your water glasses (I used mason jars) with ice cubes, pour in ¼ cup of ginger syrup and ¾ cup sparkling water, and squeeze one wedge of lime into the glass. Stir until incorporated. Taste, and add more syrup as needed. Garnish with a few slices of ginger, sprigs of thyme, and a lime wedge, if you so choose.

Gin and Gingers
Makes 6-8 drinks

Ingredients
2 cups ginger syrup (see above, omit the thyme)
2 cups gin
1 quart sparkling water
2 limes, quartered (plus more for garnish)

Combine 4 ice cubes, 1/4 cup ginger syrup, 1/4 cup gin, and 1/2 cup sparkling water in a tall water glass. Stir to incorporate. Garnish with a lime wedge.