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
People come to Cooking by the Book for many reasons: corporate team building, birthday parties and — more and more — bridal events. Bridal showers and bachelorette parties are on our calendar every weekend.
I love the enthusiasm and joy of these events where women celebrate this most important step forward in life.
Naturally, if it’s that important, people want to party and enjoy some creative new beverages. For Sunday afternoons, I have found people asking for and loving this Sparkling Mojito Martini, another wonderfully inspired drink from Kim Haasarud. It does carry a punch, but I’ve had no complaints. The flavor balance here is excellent. In one drink, you can have your mint, citrus, vodka, and sparkling taste buds all satisfied.
This drink scales up beautifully, so this recipe for one person can quickly grow for ten or twenty. You’ll just need to do the “shaker” routine three or four drinks at a time.
This recipe calls for a chilled martini glass. That’s a key touch for a sophisticated cocktail. You can make sure the chill stays by filing each glass with crushed ice before filling with the cocktail. And, before you do that, you can give the drink a zing by rimming each glass with lemon or lime juice, then dipping into super fine sugar.
Better yet, the day before, put the zest of two lemons in a container, add two cups of superfine sugar and stir to mix. That citrus sugar is a clever entry point for the spirits deep in the glass.
Sparkling Mojito Martini
Yield: 1 drink
- 5 to 7 mint leaves
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1 ½ ounces citrus vodka
- 1 ½ ounces light and dry champagne
Combine the mint leaves with the lime juice and simple syrup. Muddle lightly and add the citrus vodka and ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top off with the champagne. Garnish with an additional mint sprig.
Source: 101 Champagne Cocktails by Kim Haasarud