Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Refreshing Vodka Gimlet Cocktail

Refreshing Vodka Gimlet with Mint recipe.

Cocktails, Recent Posts | July 20, 2018 | By

What advice do you give your child the night before they leave for college? When I think back, I am not sure I gave my children advice when they went off to school. It was more of a plea to stay safe.  The advice given to me the night before I flew 3000 miles away to school took me by surprise. I can remember it as clear as a cloudless California summer night, Dad said to me, “If you are going to drink, drink vodka. It is the purest of all alcohol so you won’t get a headache, and the cops can’t smell it on your breath.” “Ah, ok Dad.” Whaaat…?  I mean what is an 18-year-old supposed to say to that?

Refreshing Vodka Gimlet with Lime, recipe.

Flashback to 1977 in California where I lived. I was moving to New York and in 1977 the drinking age was 18. I’m guessing Dad figured the likelihood of me drinking alcohol was a distinct reality. So maybe that explains his peculiar advice.

The other shock about Dad giving me advice on alcohol and drinking is Dad was not a big drinker. Yes, Dad enjoyed his cocktail at night, but he never had more than one drink. His ritual was a gin and tonic in the spring and summer months and a bourbon on the rocks in the fall and winter. He never drank in excess or was he a big fan of people who did drink a lot. Furthermore, I do not believe he ever took a sip of vodka in his life, so how did he know? Yet, there he was standing before me telling me what to drink. Maybe in his own way, he was telling me to stay safe and keep out of trouble. Giving practical advice is less emotional than saying I will miss you and you are moving so far away.

Refreshing Vodka Gimlet with Mint recipe.

Minty Advice

It wasn’t until I was married and with college-age children of my own, that I took Dad’s advice and vodka became my beverage of choice for cocktails. Maybe my influence came from Cosmos featured so elegantly in Sex in the City. Though, I made up my own Cosmo recipe using pomegranate juice, lime juice and vodka. However, the vodka gimlet I can distinctly point to my husband’s cousin for the credit.

We were at a pool party at Joe’s cousin’s home enjoying a small Palumbo family reunion one blistering hot summer day. His cousin was making vodka gimlets in honor of his father. I mean Uncle Frank was Joe’s Godfather so how could we refuse? Wow, Steven made them strong, but they were the perfect antidote on that sweltering hot day. Maybe more refreshing than the pool. It was love at first sip. From that day on, vodka gimlets became our preferred cocktail and set the standard for all vodka martinis to come.

Refreshing Vodka Gimlet with Mint, recipe.

Vodka Gimlet

Traditionally, gimlets are made with gin, lime juice and a splash of simple syrup. However, I prefer my gimlets made with vodka and without simple syrup. Adding mint leaves to the shaker and muddling the leaves with a slice of lime softens the strong vodka bite. The mint quickly infuses the cocktail with its herbal charm and tones down the alcohol. In my opinion, the mint infusion eliminates the need for the simple syrup.

I must confess, I do not mind strong cocktails because I like to taste the alcohol in my drinks and not be masked by a sweetener. Yet, making the perfect cocktail is all about balance, that is why I like adding fresh herbs to cocktails. In my opinion, herbs balance out all the flavors. Also, tasting the alcohol in your drink helps you to sip the cocktail at a slower pace. If a cocktail tastes like sweetened fruit juice, that cocktail will quickly disappear with a second trip to the bar already underway.

Vodka

You do not need fancy vodka for a vodka gimlet, just a smooth and clean tasting one. For fun and to educate myself about local distilleries, I bought a vodka made in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Republic Vodka. It is made with grains from the Midwest, the NY Hudson Valley, and Brooklyn water. Don’t get turned off by Brooklyn water, the New York City Watershed is in my backyard with reservoirs all over Westchester County and this water is good and clean.

Brooklyn Republic Vodka has a clean taste with a silky smooth viscosity. I cannot drink most vodkas straight up, but I can drink Brooklyn Republic Vodka ice-cold as is. This is a delicious vodka and it is clear Brooklyn Republic Vodka knows what they are doing.

New York State, and in particular Brooklyn is developing a solid reputation for distilling local vodka, gin, bourbon and brewing beer all made with New York grain. It is an exciting development that is part of a resurgence for small wheat and corn farms all over the state.

Refreshing Vodka Gimlet with Mint recipe.

Vodka Gimlet Variations

Vodka gimlets are a refreshing summer cocktail, but I enjoy them year round. For some variety, you can switch up the herbs. Thyme, rosemary or basil make terrific substitutions for the mint in a vodka gimlet or martini. Cucumbers are a nice addition as well. Muddle a slice of cucumber with the mint, or another fresh herb, then proceed as directed.

My Advice

Maybe Dad was right about vodka being the purest alcoholic beverage which could reduce the likelihood of getting a headache after a night of fun. Yet, just to be on the safe side, please drink vodka gimlets, or any cocktail, responsibly. Have fun and please be safe.

Enjoy any one of these appetizers with your cocktail

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways

Salmon Mousse

Ricotta Toasts with Grilled Ramps, substitute grilled leeks for the ramps.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Fig, Mozzarella and prosciutto Salad

Refreshing Vodka Gimlet with Mint recipe.

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Lime Mint Vodka Gimlet

Vodka gimlet is a very refreshing cocktail with the bright flavor of lime and fresh mint. There is no simple syrup added, which keeps the cocktail bright with a slight citrus sourness. The mint muddled in the vodka ties it all together. Fresh herbs make a wonderful addition to martinis. To me, they are a necessary ingredient to tone down the sharp bite of vodka. 

Feel free to adjust the amount of vodka to suit your taste. 

Course cocktail
Keyword vodka cocktail, vodka gimlet, vodka martini
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 3-4 small fresh mint leaves
  • 2 limes 1 lime for juice, the other used in the cocktail and garnish
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • 5 oz vodka clean tasting vodka that is not flavored

Instructions

  1. Add the mint with one thin slice of lime to a cocktail shaker and use the handle of a wooden spoon or a muddler and press down on the lime and mint to release the oils. Add a handful of ice cubes, then add freshly squeezed lime juice of one lime and the vodka into your cocktail shaker. Put the top on the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 15-30 seconds. 

  2. Pour the cocktail in two 4 oz (125 ml) martini glasses, add a slice or wedge of lime for garnish. Serve immediately while it's ice cold. 

Refreshing Vodka Gimlet with Mint recipe.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Taste of Mexico: Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe.

Cocktails, Recent Posts | April 30, 2018 | By

Let’s celebrate Margarita Week 2018. This is a social media event with food bloggers and enthusiasts across the virtual stratosphere, honoring margaritas and Cinco de Mayo. It is an annual event hosted by Kate Ramos of Hola Jalapeno, where we share margarita recipes with the world. Over the last couple of weeks, I tested recipes and tasted delicious margaritas and finally decided to share a recipe for Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño. It is a floral and spicy remake of a traditional Hibiscus Margarita.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

My recipe for raspberry hibiscus margarita is made with a juice of raspberries and hibiscus herb tea, infused with jalapeño peppers and orange peel.  A small amount of sugar is added to the juice because I like to taste the tequila and fruit in my margaritas, not sugar. The juice recipe makes about 1 quart (a shy liter), which makes enough for 16 cocktails using equal proportions of juice to tequila.

I prefer margaritas made right before I drink it, as margaritas taste best after they are just shaken. If you insist on mixing the margarita ingredients together, to speed the cocktail making process along, do so right before your guests arrive. Later as you offer each guest a drink, add enough margarita mix to your ice filled cocktail shaker for 2 margaritas. Then shake and serve.

Another bonus from making the raspberry hibiscus jalapeño juice, is the juice makes a delicious nonalcoholic beverage.  Whenever I entertain I always offer a choice of cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks for my guests to enjoy. To make a Hibiscus Margarita mocktail, mix together, using a one to one ratio of  juice to either seltzer or ginger ale. Garnish the same as you would the Margarita. Your guests will be delighted at having a refreshing drink that is healthier than soda.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno, recipe.

 

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe. A Mocktail substitute recipe.

For each recipe, a margarita or mocktail, this drink tastes best with the rim of the glass coated in salt and ground chili powder. The spiciness in the juice and from the salt-chili rim, compliments the hibiscus and tequila perfectly. If you really do not like the glass coated in salt, add a small pinch of chili salt to the cocktail shaker or glass and mix.  Just like a pinch of sea salt on dark chocolate, salt paired with the hibiscus juice and tequila is the finishing touch that makes a big difference.

Family Celebration

A year ago, I wrote a post congratulating my son Evan, for finishing his actuary exams on Cinco de Mayo. In his honor I published a recipe for a “Classic Margarita.”  Evan prefers his tequila straight up over ice, but I don’t believe he would refuse a refreshing remake of a classic Margarita. A year later, I get to wave my proud mama flag again, but this time it is for the whole family.

Taste of Mexico: Classic Margarita reicp

This year on Cinco de Mayo we have the honor to celebrate with my oldest son, Andrew, his wife Amanda, and his in-laws at the wedding of Andrew’s brother-in-law. As we raise our glass to toast the newly married couple, we also will congratulate Andrew for finishing his MBA. These past two years and a half were jam-packed from working full-time, getting engaged, planning a wedding, getting married, going to graduate school, brewing award-winning beers, and a hurricane through the state of Florida this fall. Steadfastly moving forward without looking back, Andrew did it and now looks forward to growing his career. Andrew continues to impress me how he manages to clearly see his goals ahead and maintain a positive attitude, even when things don’t always go his way. His positive attitude comes from within, but also from his love for and from Amanda. Together, their love for one another is a foundation of respect, caring, and fun.

This year, Amanda also had her proud moments by getting a job promotion with a lot of responsibility and travel.

More Family Celebration

As Evan comes upon his anniversary of passing his professional exams, he is about to begin a new adventure and is getting married in 6 weeks. His fiancée, Emily, is finishing a major accomplishment of her own when she finishes her Master’s in Education in two weeks.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe.

We are blessed with three wonderful sons and I cannot finish my post without mentioning my youngest son, Taylor. Upon college graduation he toured Europe over the summer, then upon his return moved to New York City and started his career.  The kid just hasn’t stopped moving and he likes it that way. The extended working hours are grueling, but he remains positive and happy with his work and colleagues.

What this adds up for us is our boys are all grown up and make us proud everyday. Our family is growing, and we are so excited about the love and happiness they found. Once we were 5, now we are 7 strong and couldn’t be more thrilled.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe.

What to Eat with your Hibiscus Margarita?

Enjoy your raspberry hibiscus margarita with your favorite Mexican food or with any type of cuisine from around the world.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo SauceGrilled Chicken with Creamy Poblano Rajas Sauce. Rolled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. Roasted Cauliflower with Kale Parsley PestoZucchini Basil Frittata.  With dessert of Double Coconut Pie. Lemon Saffron Syrup Cake., or Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

Margarita Week

Cinco de Mayo is becoming an auspicious day for my family, and I will gladly keep that tradition going. Join me on this May 5th in a toast, whether you are celebrating Mexico’s victory over Napoleon in the Franco Mexican War in 1862,  your cultural heritage and identity, your family, fulfilling dreams , accomplishing your goals, love, good will, peace, or just sharing a recipe around the world, by raising your glass and give thanks. Cheers my friends. May your life be filled with many celebrations and joy.

Check out all the recipes from the talented individuals Margarita Week participants. Follow the #maragritaweek on Instagram, and Hola Jalapeno’s Margarita Week web page.

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Fresh raspberries, hibiscus herb tea, orange peel and jalapeño steep together making a bright floral juice that is not too sweet and has a lot of spunk. Combine the juice with 100% pure agave, blanco tequila, Cointreau, lime juice (optional), for a refreshing hibiscus margarita. Or, mix the juice with seltzer or ginger ale for a nonalcoholic beverage. For either version, don’t skip on salting the glass rime.  The salt and extra ground chili pepper compliments the hibiscus and tequila perfectly. Trust me it makes a big difference. 

For make a nonalcoholic Raspberry Hibiscus Jalapeño beverage, stir together a one to one ratio of Hibiscus juice to seltzer. Too sweeten up the drink mix the juice with some 7-Up, or ginger ale. I recommend a ratio of two parts juice to one soda, so it is not too sweet.  

Use any herbal tea with hibiscus listed as the first ingredient. I tested this recipe with Red Zinger Tea by Celestial Seasoning, but Lemon Zinger, Wild Raspberry Hibiscus Herb Tea by Stash, or the equivalent amount of dried hibiscus flowers are all good substitutes. Once the juice is finished, it will taste spicy, but keep in mind for the final product, the juice will get diluted with other liquids. If you wish, control the heat by how much of the white pith and seeds in the jalapeño pepper you add to the raspberries and hibiscus juice. 

Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Servings 1 margarita
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Raspberry Hibiscus Jalapeño Juice

  • 1, 10 oz (283 g) bag of organic frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 6 Hibiscus tea bags
  • 1 jalapeño stem removed and cut in half
  • ¼ cup (53 g) 53 g granulated sugar
  • 3, 2-inch (5 cm) long strips of orange peel
  • 5 cups (1.25 liters) water

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

  • Coarse salt like Kosher salt
  • 1/8 -1/4 teaspoon ( a pinch) of ground chili pepper
  • 2 oz (60 ml) raspberry hibiscus jalapeño juice
  • 2 oz (60 ml) 100% agave blanco tequila
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Cointreau
  • A squeeze of lime juice from half a lime
  • 3 mint leaves
  • 1 basil leaves

Instructions

Raspberry Hibiscus Jalapeño Juice

  1. In a medium sauce pan, at least a 2-quart (2 liter) capacity, combine the thawed raspberries, hibiscus tea bags, jalapeño pepper, orange peels, granulated sugar and water. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium/medium-low and keep the juice at a gentle simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the juice steep for another 20 minutes.

  2. Strain out the solids from the juice. Pour the juice into a fine mesh strainer resting over a bowl with at least a 2-quart (2 liter) capacity. Hold the strainer over the bowl and gently press out any remaining juice in the strainer. Dispose of the solids in the strainer.
  3. Cool the juice before refrigerating it. Fill a large bowl with ice and rest the bowl with the juice in the middle of the ice. Stir now and then for even cooling. It could take about a half hour for the juice to cool enough to cover and refrigerate. If you keep the juice in the ice bath for at least an hour the juice might be chilled enough to make a drink. Keep in mind margaritas or juice tastes best when they are nice and cold.

  4. The juice makes about 1-quart, (1 liter). Store covered in the refrigerator until needed. The juice will last for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

  1. Pour some salt about a 1/4 cup, 75 ml, onto a plate wider than the diameter of your drinking glasses. Add the ground chili and mix. Take out your margarita glasses or double-old fashioned glasses and wet the rim of each glass with a piece of lime. Turn the glass upside down and dip it into the salt and chili mix. Make sure the whole rim is coated in salt. If you are using double old-fashioned glasses, add 5 ice cubes to each prepared glass just before you pour in the margarita mix. Set aside.

  2. In a shaker filled half way with ice, add the tequila, hibiscus juice, Cointreau, and lime juice if using. Add the mint and basil leaves by placing the herbs in the palm of your hands and clap. You want to smash the herbs to release their aroma. Rub your hands together and let the herbs fall into the shaker. Add more orange zest if you like.

  3. Shake for 15 seconds a good and hearty shake like you are dancing the salsa. Then strain into your salt rimmed margarita glass. Garnish with a slice of lime, a slice of jalapeño and orange zest.

Large batch and ahead of time preparation:

  1. If you are having a large party and want to mix the ingredients before your guests arrive, mix the Margarita ingredients without the herbs, into a pitcher just before your party begins.

  2. FYI, I did not test out the proportions as it was just the two of us over the weekend and I did not want to drink or waste a whole liter of tequila. I did the math for you. Taste and adjust the ingredients as you prefer. 
  3. In a pitcher, stir together 1-quart (1 liter) raspberry hibiscus jalapeño juice with 1 quart (1 liter) of 100% agave blanco tequila, one-pint (600 ml) of Cointreau, and ¾- 1 cup (185 ml – 250 ml) fresh squeezed lime juice, if using. Add less lime juice then specified and taste. Adjust the margarita mix as you see fit. Cover the pitcher with plastic wrap and keep it chilled in the refrigerator before mixing in a cocktail. When ready, pour enough margarita mix for two drinks, 8 -10 oz (250 – 300 ml), into a cocktail shake then add the herbs. Shake well and serve. Garnish with lime wedges, jalapeño slices, orange segments or zest. 

  4. Additionally, you will need to make extra juice for a nonalcoholic beverage.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno. Traditional hibiscus margarita recipe gets a spicy remake with infused jalapeno chili for a bright and refreshing, raspberry hibiscus margarita. Also included in the post is a non-alcoholic variation using the raspberry hibiscus jalapeno juice.

 

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Hot Toddy Time

Hot Toddy Time, recipe.

Cocktails, Fall, Thanksgiving, Winter | December 12, 2017 | By

You know that feeling you get after spending hours outside in freezing weather? When you are so cold you forget what it’s like to feel warm. The freezing temperatures makes your muscles tense as if your shoulders are welded together and attached to your ears. Nothing feels right when a winter chill seeps into your bones. When I get that cold, the thought of sitting by a fire or taking a hot bath becomes a fantasy vacation. There is another solution for getting warm and that is sipping a Hot Toddy.

Hot Toddy Time, recipe.

I’d almost forgotten Hot Toddies and its’ warming powers. Thanks to an outdoor fundraiser in February and an Irish Pub on 10th Ave, a distant memory defrosted from my archives. On a frigid February day, the westerly winds blowing off the Hudson River nearly defeated us. Our walk took us down a path from 42nd street to Battery Park, then back up to 23rd Street. Me and my co-conspirators were desperate to warm up. Our scheduled reward of a free pancake breakfast lost its’ appeal for something stronger, so we headed over to 10th Avenue and right into an Irish pub. Upon entering, our waiter accurately read our frozen expressions and sat us down at a table by the fire and suggested a Hot Toddy for our beverage.

Hot Toddy Time, recipe.

A Hot Toddy. I immediately fell in love with this pub. Just the mention of this soothing cocktail made me relax. It also brought back memories of winter sailing with Dad on the San Francisco Bay. Winter in the Bay Area is nowhere near as cold as New York, but it is damp and that makes the air feel like it’s below freezing. Sometimes after a particularly cold day of sailing, Dad made Hot Toddies for “the crew”. His recipe was a simple one with boiling water, bourbon, honey, a drop of lemon, and a cinnamon stick. It wasn’t fancy, but it was the perfect remedy after a day of sailing through the fog. Even though my Hot Toddy only contained a drop of bourbon, I still felt its’ warming powers.

I associate Hot Toddies with outdoor winter activities, but don’t limit yourself to just one type of occasion. Any time you want to relax or warm up is perfect for Toddy time. It is a cocktail to sip and relax with, not a let’s go drinking drink. For centuries a Hot Toddy was prescribed to cure many ailments like a sore throat, a cold or anxiety. It is a soothing drink, not a strong one. However, as history has shown, this cocktail is open to interpretation and variation.

Hot Toddy Time, recipe.

What I learned is, throughout history Hot Toddies were made with local ingredients like Irish Whiskey in Ireland, Rum or Brandy in the US, and Scotch in Scotland. It also originated in India, not Scotland as I thought. Now, there are many variations made with apple cider, tea, ginger ale, tequila, vodka, gin, or served with whipped cream on top. Personally, I am partial to the traditional recipe for a Hot Toddy because I believe the warming notes of caramel found in whiskey is integral to the flavor profile of the drink. You won’t find whipped cream topping my Hot Toddy either.

How to Make a Hot Toddy

It is a good idea to temper your glass, so the Hot Toddy stays hot for as long as possible. Use an 6-8 oz (185-250 ml) Irish Coffee mug or a glass suitable for hot beverages. Or, add a metal spoon into a glass and pour the boiling water over the spoon to prevent the glass from cracking.

My Hot Toddy ratio is 2 parts water, or other hot non-alcoholic beverage, to one part spirit: 4 oz (125 ml) hot water to 2 oz (60 ml) whiskey. I am partial to Irish Whiskey, like Jameson or Tullamore Dew, but a bourbon like Makers Mark with its’ smooth and sweet honey notes would taste nice in a Hot Toddy. In my opinion a natural sweetener, like honey or maple syrup taste best. Lemon juice and orange or lemon slices are a nice touch with woody spices. Add 1-2 spices so they do not compete with each other, or no spices at all. I enjoy the different spices because each sip carries a unique flavor from the steeping spices.

Hungry? Try Crispy Potato Skins with Smoked Salmon or Cheese and Chive Herb Bread with your Hot Toddy.

However you choose to make your Hot Toddy, try this traditional recipe, at least once. You will soon feel its mellow effects and warm to any occasion.

Hot Toddy Time, recipe

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Hot Toddy

There is nothing like a Hot Toddy to feel warm on a cold winter day. The honey, spice and caramel notes warm up the winter blues. The whiskey is soft, but you can still taste it. Adjust the proportions to suit your tastes. Hot Toddy's are also delicious made with Earl Grey Tea, instead of hot water. Just steep the tea for a brief minute, then continue as directed. Serve hot.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 4 oz 125 ml boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 oz 60 ml Irish Whiskey or Bourbon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise optional
  • 1 -2 cloves optional
  • thin slice of lemon
  • a quarter slice of an orange optional

Instructions

  1. Fill a drinking glass like an Irish Coffee glass, or a large snifter, or 6 oz glass mug, with hot water to warm up your glass. If your glass is not made for hot beverages, temper it by putting a metal kitchen spoon in the glass before you add the water. Keep your water hot in the tea kettle while you wait for your glass to warm up about 5 minutes.
  2. Empty your glass and add 4 oz (125 ml) of boiling water to your warmed mug. Use the spoon method again so your glass won't crack. Add the honey and lemon juice and stir until the honey is dissolved. Add the cinnamon stick, whisky and the lemon and orange slices, studded with a clove or two for garnish. Add a star anise if using. Drink while it is hot.
The perfect antidote to a cold winter day. A Hot Toddy recipe made with hot water, Irish Whisky, honey, lemon and winter spices.

© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail reicpe

After you make Triple C Cranberry Sauce, you will have extra cranberry juice that needs a purpose. You could drink it plain for breakfast. Crantini’s are nice cocktails. Or, infuse the juice with herbs and spices for a festive signature cocktail. The latter is my choice, especially since I love martinis made with fruit  juice muddled with fresh herbs and spices. Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail takes its inspiration from the classic Cosmo Cocktail and is perfect for entertaining.

Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail Recipe

There are many fun cocktails for the holidays, but my inspiration came for the need to use up some leftover juice, and a request from Joe, “If you’re going to make a cocktail, make a vodka cocktail.” How could I refuse? Vodka has a clean alcohol flavor which mixes well with many fruit juices. I am not a fan of flavored vodkas, they just taste artificial to me. It is also less expensive to flavor the vodka myself then buy 3 different types of flavored vodka. All you need to get the flavors of herbs and spices in your drink, is to add a small herb sprig or fruit, and muddle it to release its oils. Then add the remaining ingredients and shake away.

The scents and flavors of my cranberry sauce got me thinking about new ideas for a vodka cocktail. Many herbs pair nicely with cranberry and I started dreaming about adding rosemary, ginger and orange bitters to cranberry juice. I tried steeping rosemary, ginger, lemon peel and allspice into the cranberry juice. Unfortunately, after 36 hours the juice tasted no different. I am going to work on this some more, but until then a cocktail shaker and a muddle gets the job done.

Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail recipe

When we drink cocktails, vodka is our preferred libation. Though I am not remiss for trying other beverages like tequila for a Classic Margarita, and stout in a Guinness Stout Float. Even cooking with spirits is fun like, Chocolate Stout Cake

I am particular about my drinks, because I prefer them on the dry side. Many cocktails are too sweet for my tastes. Yet, I recognize some drinks need a touch of sugar for the flavors to balance out. There is a fine line of how much simple syrup to add before it gets too much, but it does make a difference. Spiced cranberry vodka cocktail needs just a pinch of sugar to offset the harsh vodka and tart cranberry juice. It is amazing how even a small amount can change a drink from good to wow.

Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail recipe.

Granulated sugar does not dissolve in cold beverages, but simple syrup does. Imagine that layer of sugar at the bottom of a glass of iced tea and you’ll get the picture. No one wants that slurry in a cocktail. That is why simple syrup is used. Depending on how sweet your juice is, you may or may not need the simple syrup. The first time you make it, taste as you go to figure out how much simple syrup you need to reach your desired balance of flavor. Simple syrup is a good option to have at your disposal, whether you want a cocktail or a non-alcoholic beverage.

Spiced cranberry vodka cocktail is a remake of two classic drinks, Crantini and a Cosmo. The fresh herbs and spice from the ginger make this cocktail a festive and refreshing beverage. It would also taste great in a non-alcoholic beverage using the herb infused cranberry juice with seltzer or ginger ale.

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Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

When cocktails are made to order, everyone gets exactly what they want. Although this recipe takes its inspiration from the classic Cosmo cocktail, it has more herb and spice flavor without being sweet. I like my cocktails on the dry side and usually with some fresh herbs. In this cocktail, a touch of rosemary and ginger add a layer of welcomed flavor with the cranberries. You don't want to add too much rosemary, or it will taste medicinal. A few drops of orange bitters and simple syrup round out the drink nicely.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 cocktail
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Spiced Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup 125 ml water
  • 1/2 cup 125 ml sugar
  • 1 1/2- inch 4 cm slice fresh ginger, sliced thin
  • 1/6 tsp pinch ground allspice, or 3 allspice berries

Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

  • 1 inch 2.5 cm piece of a rosemary sprig
  • 1 thin slice of fresh ginger
  • 2 oz 60 ml vodka
  • 2 oz 60 ml cranberry juice
  • 2-3 dashes of orange bitters
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Less than 1/2 tsp of spiced simple syrup

Instructions

Spiced Simple Syrup

  1. Add all the ingredients for the simple syrup into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. When the sugar is dissolved, turn down the heat to medium low and simmer for two minutes. Stir the whole time you are cooking the simple syrup, and gently pound the ginger with a wooden spoon to release its flavor.
  2. Turn off the heat and cool for twenty minutes.
  3. Pour the simple syrup through a fine mesh strainer resting over a glass container. Store in a glass container with a lid in the refrigerator. Simple syrup will keep for two weeks, stored in the refrigerator.

Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

  1. Add the rosemary, sliced ginger, into a cocktail shaker and muddle the herbs to release their flavors.
  2. Fill the shaker with ice, then pour the vodka, cranberry juice, lemon juice, simple syrup if needed, and 2-3 dashes of orange bitters. Cover and give it a good shake.
  3. Pour into martini glasses and serve.
Spiced Cranberry Vodka Cocktail Recipe

© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Taste of Mexico: Classic Margarita

Taste of Mexico: Classic Margarita Recipe

Cinco de Mayo is a great celebration of Mexican heritage and culture. As with many cultural holidays, the festivities focus on parades, parties, music, food, and drink. It just so happens, May 5, 2017 is also an auspicious day for my family, my son Evan in particular. So, I want to give him a toast and raise a margarita in his honor.

Taste of Mexico: classic margarita recipe

Evan running the 2015 NY City Marathon

If I can boast and be a proud mama, for the past 6 years Evan has continuously studied, taken and passed 9 actuary exams. If I remember correctly, the average time it takes to complete all 10 exams is 10 years. Fingers crossed, he will accomplish this feat in 6. Against the odds, he passed each exam in his first try. This is not an easy task. It is hard work to keep this schedule up and stay focused for so long. Life happens and there are always distractions to resist. To accomplish his goals, he established a rigorous study schedule using his former training as a college varsity swimmer to model and organize his study schedule.  The final day is here and today May 5, 2017, Evan takes his final actuary exam. Kudos to you Evan.

Evan believes it is a good sign his last professional exam falls on Cinco de Mayo. After the exam is done, stepping out into Cinco de Mayo festivities is a great way to celebrate. As luck would have it, one of his good friends is getting married this weekend and he jokes, “It’s really nice of Meggie’s parents to throw me a party this weekend because I finished my exams.”

Surprisingly, his preferred drink is tequila. I look at him cross-eyed and confused as he explains how tequila is a delicious and complex drink. His preference is “really good” tequila on the rocks to sip and enjoy. Evan insists good tequila is nothing like the namesake that sparked its reputation.

Taste of Mexico: Classic Margarita reicp

My memory of drinking tequila is dramatically influenced from my college days. (I can so hear my boys having a chuckle with this statement). It’s not that I drank it a lot, Sarah Lawrence had possibly two tequila sunrise parties in my four years at school. Honestly, I didn’t drink that much, but with tequila, a little goes a long way. To this day, I have not looked at a tequila sunrise and might need some persuading to try one. Later, I learned the tequila I drank in college was not real tequila, but some strange brew with a mysterious worm sloshing about in the bottle.

More about tequila. 

It is funny, while researching tequila for this post every article started the same way. … “I know we all have our tequila stories from college, but….” Almost every article pleads with the reader to give tequila a second chance. It appears that the 70’s and 80’s gave tequila a bad rap that has lasted to this day.

Eventually, I will work my way up to sipping tequila, but until then a margarita is my choice drink with tequila. Classic margarita is one of my favorite drinks. A little fresh lime juice, a splash of orange liquor mixed with tequila is a bright blend of flavors. A delicious margarita depends on fresh quality ingredients. I know it is tempting to make a pitcher with store-bought limeade. However, the best ones are made one at a time, shaken not stirred, and with fresh lime juice. My preferred margarita is on the rocks without salt. Every now and then I add a salted chili rim spiked glass for some perk and heat.

So today as we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I toast Evan and congratulate him and all his accomplishments. Evan may you continue to soar through life like a champion. You are a fun, compassionate, generous, intelligent, and loving person. I feel very blessed you are my son.

Taste of Mexico: classic margarita recipe

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Taste of Mexico: Classic Margarita

Enjoy a classic margarita made with fresh lime juice.

Prep Time 6 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes
Servings 1 drink
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2 oz blanco tequila
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz or less simple syrup*
  • Kosher salt for garnish
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill a shaker with ice cubes then add the ingredients. Shake the mixer for 15 seconds to make all the ingredients sing together in harmony and like you are dancing the salsa.
  2. Rub the rim of a highball glass with lime and coat the rim with Kosher salt. Fill the glass with ice cubes then pour the margarita in the glass. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

How to make simple syrup:
Add 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar dissolves and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool. Keep the simple syrup in the refrigerator in a sealed container until needed. Will last for several months in the refrigerator.

© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

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