This is the post I never thought I’d ever write. A post where I am actually promoting a Martha Stewart recipe. Ugh. I don’t even know what I was thinking about when I started poking around on the web looking for some interesting summer sips and ended up on the Martha Stewart website. It began so innocently - just me looking for a summer drink that wasn’t sugar-laden or bland or Coors Light. When I take my cocktails al fresco, I’m just looking for what everyone else is: something cold, crisp, fresh, and flavourful. And of course, Martha Fucking Stewart has just the perfect thing.
Before I get to the drink, I have to come clean and tell you that Martha and I have a bit of a well, long history together. I hate crafts. I don’t just ‘whip-up’ a carrot cake. I cannot envision how sewing projects are ‘easy’ and/or ‘fun’. AND - I have managed to survive just fine without a hot glue gun all these years. I lack the patience, fine motor skills and mental fortitude to create and exectue much of that profiled in her magazine or on her website. About the only thing I do in the same league as Martha Stewart is hang my laundry out on the line and fold like a professional. But if you look at Martha’s website, you don’t see ‘Laundry-Folding Technique of the Day’ alongside her ‘Craft of the Day’, ‘Organizing Tip of the Day’ or ‘Cookie of the Day’. Let’s face it: Martha has been making me feel inadequate for years.
On Tuesday I hosted a summer solstice BBQ for my fantastic colleagues and served them Martha’s Cucumber Ginger Fizz. What attracted me to this recipe was the use of cucumber infused vodka (which you do yourself, in advance), as well as ginger simple syrup (same deal - make it yourself, in advance). Sparkling water (bubbles!) and a squeeze of lime (fresh!) are added to this. And as much as it hurts me to say this, this drink was dead easy to make and loved by all. It was beautiful!
Before you go check out the recipe, I just want to tell you that I actually infused the vodka with cucumber for much longer than the one hour recommended in the recipe. You could probably leave it for overnight in the fridge, actually (or leave it to taste). And also - make sure you use the full amount of ginger that the recipe calls for to make the simple syrup. I had (what I thought was) a decent-enough sized piece of ginger at home, and just threw that into the simple syrup. When I tasted the syrup straight up the ginger taste definitely came through, but some folks around the BBQ told me that it got a bit lost in the drink. Others said they could totally taste it. Ginger flavour or not, careful use of the syrup adds just the right amount of ‘sweet’ to the drink without making it taste like Kool-Aid.
Last thing I want to say about this is that when you infuse alcohol, it takes the boozy edge off (make sure you taste your vodka before and after). The cucumber infusion makes for a nice pleasant drink. But if you want to ‘taste’ the vodka - I would put in more than what’s recommended by the recipe (really, Jen? You would put in more vodka?). I would up it to 2 oz (I used 1.5 oz originally). I also froze some mint leaves and viola into ice cubes and put them in the drink which went nice with the cucumber ribbon and lime that also go into the drink. The only thing that would have made this drink better is if the cucumbers came from my garden.
Scroll down and check out my pictures in the post below!
So there you have it. A fabulous summer drink that’s easy to make, and easy to drink. Damn you, Martha.
I recently received an email from faithful reader VA, who, two and a half weeks post-partum, sent me an email begging asking for cocktail recipes (smart woman):
"The reason I’m writing is that I’m looking for a good pear martini recipe. When we were in Paris, we went to Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Hotel and I had a Pear Martini which was fantastic. My husband made me a pear martini this past week but it wasn’t as smooth and now that we have Pear Vodka, we must find a nice cocktail in order to enjoy the remaining bottle minus the 2 oz used this week! Therefore, I am turning to you for a recipe which we could try at home and would go down easily :)"
Bar Hemingway at the Ritz! Sigh. How romantic! I for sure know that adapting to the twenty-four hour clock, spit-up, and diapers will conjure up the fondest of fond vacation memories. So if a pear martini is going to put you back there and channel memories from a more well-rested time, I am your woman! Just don’t ask me to babysit.
OK - I was thinking about how to get you a pear martini that was super smooth, and the only thing I could come up with was…baby food! Yup, just a little pear puree in a cocktail, and you are good to go. Mushed up pears was one of the very first foods I gave to both my babies. And let me tell you, mushed up pear in the manual food grinder is only the beginning! Before you know it, the blender is going to become a permanent fixture on your counter-top as you puree an assortment of fruits and veggies for your baby: one ice cube tray after glorious ice cube tray.
But why not stock that freezer for Maman as well? Over at Viva La Cocktail (my new favourite cocktail website), I came across a straightforward recipe for pear puree that is totally suitable to include in cocktails, and totally freezable (is that a word?). Also over at Viva La Cocktail was the recipe for the Yazi Ginger Peartini which I would say is very smooth. I didn’t have all of the ingredients, so made a couple substitutions. Below is how I made it:
The Mix - Ginger Peartini
1 oz Canton Ginger Liqueur 1+1/2 oz Absolut Pears vodka 1/2 oz Grand Marnier 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice 1/2 oz fresh lime juice 1 oz simple syrup 1 tablespoon fresh pear puree .
Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain (actually, I would double strain it for a smoother cocktail) into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a pear slice and a light dusting of fresh nutmeg.
This recipe called for ginger vodka (which I am quite certain you can get at the LCBO) I just didn’t have any on hand, and couldn’t justify buying a bottle, what with the Hoarders incident and everything.
Another cocktail I found that included pear puree has a totally different and a dry flavour:
The Mix: Pear Martini
2 oz vodka (sorry, it’s not pear vodka - I know this doesn’t help you)
1 oz pear puree
1 oz apple juice
1/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Combine the simple syrup and a sprig of rosemary in a shaker and crush using a muddler (ya got one?). Add the vodka, pear puree, apple juice, lemon juice to a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a sprig of rosemary and pear wedge.
I tried out both of these on the Jock, and he preferred the first one, I preferred the second (fairly typical). We were not in Paris.
You are also in luck because the LCBO just recently came out with its summer cocktail recipe book, and there is a recipe in there that calls for pear vodka (no baby food):
The Mix: Poire Basil Martini (it even has French like right there in the name!)
1 1/2 oz pear vodka
3 oz pear juice (you can get it at the Herb and Spice)
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a basil leaf.
Wow - so like three cocktail options, one blog post! The only thing missing is the French Cafe CD from Putamayo. So put that on and, and voila! You are back in Paris. Just with a baby this time.