Part of the trick to entertaining is to maintain balance with the stages of the evening. When guests come to our house — which really means when they come to our kitchen where every party seems to focus — we always have an array of appetizers ready and waiting.
As people gaze at that party food, I play bartender and I’m ready to mix, muddle and pour. But I want to get everyone sipping at the same time. This weekend, our friends were easy to serve. One person wanted his ice cold vodka and another wanted her diet soda. That left me and Suzen and I had to “catch up” time wise. I needed a quick cocktail, so we could all begin conversing and chewing at the same time.
“Gin and tonic?” Suzen asked.
“I’m feeling experimental,” I said. I was already halving a lime.
This “Ginrita” can be made in a minute and is very simple, yet very, very refreshing. Depending on your limes, you’ll get a light green color or something a tad more distinctive. This isn’t a margarita, and it isn’t a gin and tonic. It has its own distinctive flavor.
I got the idea for the Ginrita from recipes for the Clover Club, a cocktail for a hundred years ago in Philadelphia. The original clover club used grenadine instead of my sugar syrup and was cloudy because it was shaken with egg white. My drink is really a new creation and simpler to craft.
Its pure taste lets it complement many appetizers, including smoked salmon with sour cream and dill on rye bread and figs stuffed with gorgonzola, then dusted with sugar and baked until the sugar caramelizes. [Hint: there’s a pathway to start your holiday party!]
One note, a couple of years ago, we bought an ice crushing machine: you put in ice cubes, the crusher makes noise, and little ice shards go into a container. Shelf space in any kitchen is precious. There is never enough space for everything. We’ve put our espresso machine away, but this ice crusher is always there.
Crushed ice creates a much better beverage than using ice cubes. The crushed ice has more surface area, so it “chills” the beverage far quicker. If you fill the glass with crushed ice, then it actually stays colder longer. The buried ice pieces below the surface just form a thermal mass that takes a longer time to melt than would a few ice cubes bobbing about on the top of the drink.
Yield: 2 moderately sized cocktails
- 3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice [probably 2 limes]
- 3 ounces simple sugar syrup
- 4 ounces gin
If you wish, rub the squeezed lime halves around the rim of each glass and dip the glass rim into sugar. You can even create lime-flavored sugar in advance.
Before you begin preparing the drinks, crush a dozen ice cubes and fill two cocktail glasses with ice pieces.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add the lime juice, sugar syrup, and gin. Shake for at least 30 seconds until very thoroughly chilled.
Pour into the ice-filled glasses. Garnish, if you wish, with a slice of lime.
Source: Brian O’Rourke
What is the origin of new recipes? Experimentation. Inspiration. Desperation.
It’s fall here, the peak weekend for red and yellow leaves and I’m getting ready for a fall party. I need to come up with a great cocktail.
I was going to serve Pina Coladas, sort of a last, long farewell to summer.
Suzen said, “No. Wait here, Sweetie.” Those are harmless words, but I did not like the tone at all. In a few moments, she returned holding a book, one of my favorites: Biophysics Demystified by Daniel Goldfarb. It’s a geek book, filled with equations and diagrams explaining how our bodies function.
“You need to read this,” she said, opening the book for me. And then I knew. I remembered that tone. I had not heard it in twenty-five years, but it was straight out of that attorney’s office when we were discussing our prenupt. My lawyer told me not to … Well, it’s been twenty-five years.
I looked at the page but could not focus. “Let me explain it to you,” Suzen offered. “In a normal human, the heart pumps about 5 liters, a bit over 5 quarts, of blood a minute.” She stopped and looked at my muscular chest. “In you, maybe 5.1.
“Now, when blood leaves the heart, most of it goes through the aorta, which starts with a diameter of 3 centimeters, a bit over one inch. But the aorta soon ends and the diameter is 33% smaller then. What does that mean, Brian”
“The blood has to flow faster at the end,” I said. I know my bloody fluid dynamics.
“Exactly. But that Pina Colada is made with coco lopez, and what do you think happens when you eat that stuff?” She did not pause for me to answer. “It’s ingested immediately, goes into the blood stream, into the heart and out the aorta. When you pour that lopez stuff out of the can, it’s all slow motion. When it’s going through your aorta, it just clings to the sides.
“It’s going to create eddies in your blood flow. And then turbulence.”
“Oh, no,” I reacted. I used to work on airplanes and turbulence is bad, very bad.
“Yes, Brian, noisy turbulence. If you drink this stuff, I’ll soon be able to hear your blood flow from across the room. You’ll sound like a clogged drain. And while I might appreciate the white noise during the day, it would keep me up at night. We don’t want that, do we, Brian?”
“No.” I heard my own meek voice.
“That’s right.” She walked the can of Coco Lopez over to the garbage can and released it from two feed up. There was thud, a rattle, and it was over.
I turned to walk away.
“If you are going to the basement now to get that stack of two more cans you hide at the bottom of that box topped with pliers, I threw it away yesterday.”
Let’s just look at the bright side here. She’s trying to help me. And that walk down to the basement and then, Lord, back up would be tough on my heart.
I’m left with pineapple juice I had bought. A lot of it, in those little cans than tend to migrate to the back of the shelf and then hibernate way, way past their expiration date. Like from one century to the next. Not good.
I’m in a gin mood. Suzen always is. So I created this gin and pineapple juice concoction I call a zippy. Why? Because I first made it without the tonic water and I thought my brain might explode. Gin is unforgivingly strong. So, I retried with a little more pineapple juice and some tonic water. You should feel free to adjust both when you try this.
This cocktail is very refreshing, with waves of flavor and the competition of gin against the sweetness and the tonic water.
Suzen will be gone next week. I’m going to do some more beverage experiments. I regret that she found that stash of Coco Lopez under the pliers. That was not very cleverly disguised by me. I think the pipe wrenches on the higher shelf will prove more effective.
Gin and Pineapple Zippy
Yield: Serves 1
- 2 ounces gin, ideally chilled in the refrigerator
- 1.5 ounces pineapple juice
- 1 ounce simple sugar syrup
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 ounces tonic water
Fill an 8 ounce cocktail glass with crushed ice.
Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with several ice cubes. Shake well until fully chilled. Pour into the cocktail glass.
Source: Brian O’Rourke