As much as I love the abundance of fresh produce during the summer and lament the wane of warm days I can’t deny I get excited about three things as the end of tomato season comes upon us. Pumpkin? Not really. Winter squash? Nah; I like it OK but I don’t get excited about it. My three winter loves are much more exciting and vibrant! Cranberries, pomegranates and all things citrus brighten my day and my taste buds and as I’ve headed into cocktail territory I’ve found that all three are equally amazing in the creation of cocktails that are both easy on the eyes and in going down.
Such a vibrant and beautiful addition to this season when boots and mittens ward off the chill. And by chill I mean Denver’s weather of late. It’s only December and we’re BELOW freezing. Thanks Alaska. You can have this weather and that Sarah person. :)
If you’re still leery of pomegranates and the hassle they can be to remove the arils from their cavern like little homes, take a peek at this post…it really is SO easy and virtually no mess to separate the arils from the membrane when you’re doing it underwater. Promise. While there, check out that recipe for a cream cheese filled French toast that is garnished with pom arils. Want it now! Pomegranates are only available from September through February so I pick one up almost every single time I’m at the market; I only wish I could hoard them all year! I’ve heard the arils can be frozen…anyone tried that with success? Mushy arils would not be fun!
I was recently contacted by a rep for New Amsterdam Spirits wanting to know if I would like to sample their gin? If you think I always say yes to this type of offer then think again…I really don’t. Some cheap vodkas with a bevy of ridiculous flavors (Cake? Salted Caramel Popcorn? Really?) never get a go. Anything that appears to be marketed to a ‘younger than 21′ crowd is not only not going to get my stamp of approval for that reason but the truth is it’s usually subpar product anyhow. I won’t mention any names but I seriously was offered something with a tobacco flavor. So Not Kidding and SO gross.
Still, on the plus side I’ve been fortunate to be on the receiving end of a bounty of great ‘adult beverages’ and this gin ranks right up there with the best of them. I’m not claiming it as the best gin in the market but combine it’s taste with it’s price point and it’s going to be a staple in my bar. I’m not much of a straight gin drinker and I’ve sometimes grimaced at paying what I do for Bombay Sapphire because I know it’s name. Now I won’t have to!
This is definitely a citrusy gin; not that it doesn’t bear the standard aromatic of juniper and has some nice floral notes but it’s the citrus that reigns supreme; the disinfectant nose that can really hit you with gins in this price point was all but gone; it was the citrus that I noticed front and center. Seemed the perfect choice for a cocktail featuring the brightness of citrus and the tang of pomegranate. I will sometimes ask a brand rep if they can provide me with a recipe and I did this time for sure. My creativity as a mixologist is all but gone while I juggle the last minute throes of finishing my home and HOPING I’ll be moving in a week or so. Still I sure needed a good drink. :) My thanks to mixologist Darryl Robinson (host of Cooking Channel’s Drink Up!) for this recipe. It sounded interesting but I really was not prepared for how amazing it tasted when all of the components came together. I didn’t have any Pomegranate liqueur on hand though or even pomegranate juice so I subbed with some sweetened cranberry juice. It was so good I’ve revised the recipe accordingly; no reason to run out for a bottle of liqueur you don’t have or will seldom use. If you have it? Sure, then use it!
As ready as I am to move (OK, beyond ready), I am going to miss one thing from this experience. Well, three things actually. OK, four. Augi, the little dog that lives here has fallen in love with me and me with him…he is going to be hard to leave and I’m certain he is going to miss the regular treats I give him. I won’t miss his hair all over my stuff though! Still, mostly I am going to miss Priscila, Nate and their four year old daughter Lena. They live across the street and have lived at the bottom of my street for SIX years but we never met until this past summer. Their home and friendship has been a nice respite in those moments when I just had to get out; we’ll sip a cocktail or two (OK, maybe three!) and chat and cook a bit and I just love their company. Lena? She is adorable, precocious and best of all? When she sees me, she runs up screaming, ‘BARB!’ Who doesn’t love having someone be SO excited to see you appear. It will be nice to invite them to my new home and I will always be ready with one of my cocktail adventures for them to sample.
With this drink? I brought all the ingredients over and Nate reminded me he doesn’t like things too sweet. Granted, pink can sure suggest sweet can’t it? But it’s not. It’s so hard to describe. Some subtle sweet, some citrus, the lightness of gin combined with fresh ginger plus the one component I can’t describe that makes it so good. It’s that cucumber! If a veggie can add a ‘fresh’ component to a cocktail, then Cucumber is King of Fresh! How did it go over? Nate wanted to guzzle it. I’d call that a success wouldn’t you? I’ll have this cocktail at the ready for their first visit. Bring jammies kids. :)
My friend Shanna over at the Pineapple Coconut Blog claims the same love for my favorite winter components and we wanted to offer you two cocktails this week; mine with pomegranate and hers featuring cranberry. Hop on over and check it out, tell Shanna Hi for me too…and as always…Cheers!
- 2 oz. New Amsterdam Gin
- 1 oz. sweetened Pomegranate juice or Pomegranate Liqueur if you must!
- 2-3 Slices of muddled ginger
- 2-3 Slices of muddled lemon
- 2-3 Slices of muddled cucumber
- 1 oz. Simple syrup
- Pomegranate seeds
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain all ingredients into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
Simple rule for simple syrup. Equal amounts of water are mixed with sugar until the sugar is melted. The problem with that basic recipe is that unless you keep a supply on hand you will have to wait for it to get cool.
So...I make mine a bit differently. I use one-half part water to 1 part sugar and put them into a pan on the stove on medium heat. Once the water boils and the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from heat and pour the mixture into a heatproof vessel. Add one-half part ice cold water to this mixture. Voila...cool simple syrup! For example:
1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup water Add together in saucepan and boil til sugar is dissolved Remove from heat and pour the simple syrup into a heat proof container Add 1/4 cup ice cold water and stir. Done and done!