After what feels like 40 days and 40 nights of rain, we finally have some sunshine here in the SF Bay Area. Time to dust off the patio furniture and move happy hour outdoors.
One of my favorite warm weather cocktail ingredients is lemon. That could be because it tastes best when it's ice cold, it mixes equally well with vodka, gin, rum and tequila or maybe it's just fond childhood memories of lemonade - and who doesn't love lemonade?
You could just make a standard lemon drop - a very simple drink of vodka, lemon juice and sugar, but I like this recipe I found in Sunset Magazine. It's more complex with the addition of ginger and rosemary. To add yet another layer of flavors try one of the Buddha's hand infused vodkas - Hangar One makes a great one. With that vodka you'll get additional flavors of jasmine and baking spices.
In case you're not familiar with Buddha's hand, it is a fragrant citron fruit indigenous to Northeastern India and China. Apart from flavoring food and drinks, it is often used in fragrances in Chinese and Japanese cultures and as a religious offering in Buddhist temples.
In terms of an appetizer to go with it, I say you run with the Buddha's hand theme and make this one - just pop it on some crostini to make it a finger food.
This drink recipe is for a pitcher of lemon-drops, which I highly recommend - making drinks by the pitcher that is. Not making drinks one by one frees you up to revel in the warmth of your guests and the long, sunny days ahead.
Cheers to that!
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 piece unpeeled ginger, about 1 1/4 in. by 1 1/4 in., sliced into 1/8-in.-thick coins
- 2 sprigs rosemary (5 in. each), plus 8 sprigs (1 1/2 in. each) for garnish
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice (at least 5 lemons)
- 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups citron vodka
1. Make lemon concentrate: In a medium saucepan, bring 2/3 cup sugar, ginger, 5-in. rosemary sprigs, and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Let steep at room temperature 20 minutes. Strain into a medium bowl, discarding rosemary and ginger, and stir in lemon juice.
2. Pour remaining 2/3 cup sugar onto a plate. Slice 2 thin slices from lemon and quarter the slices. Insert a 1 1/2-in. rosemary sprig through center of each quarter. With a wedge cut from remaining lemon, moisten the rims of 8 cocktail glasses. Twist rims gently in sugar to coat.
3. Fill a large pitcher half-full with ice cubes. Pour in vodka and lemon concentrate and stir vigorously. Strain into glasses, dividing evenly. Float a rosemary-skewered lemon quarter in each.