We had so much fun mixing up a few greenmarket cocktails last week that we decided to do it again.
But, this time, a caveat: one of Ryan’s co-workers said that all of our drinks were too girly (hi, Graham!) and requested that we make more “manly” drinks this time around.
I didn’t think any of last week’s drinks were particularly feminine—okay, maybe lavender is a little too “ladies who lunch”—but we aim to please, so this week we broke out the bourbon and mezcal and got to work.
This week’s cast of characters: fresh gooseberries from Kerran Farms in New Jersey, cherries from Locust Grove Fruit Farm in Milton, New York, and fresh chamomile.
The first drink we mixed ended up being our personal favorite. In fact, we made another one later in the evening and will probably keep drinking it throughout the summer. We’re calling it a Summer In Manhattan.
First, muddle 5-6 cherries with a 1/2 tsp. superfine sugar and a 1/2 oz. of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Then, add 1 oz. of Luxardo Maraschino, 2 oz. of bourbon (we used Bulleit Bourbon), a dash of Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters. (P.S. you can get them here!)
Shake vigorously and served in an old-fashioned glass, preferably with a big ‘ol sphere of ice and garnish with a lemon twist.
The cherries were much sweeter than anticipated so we tweaked this drink a few times until we perfected it. The final product (the above recipe) is a perfect balance—the overly sweet cherries are complemented by the oaky smoothness of the bourbon and the cherry bark bitters added an entirely new dimension. (Of course, I still can’t get over the drink’s carmine hue. I thought my hands would be stained with cherry juice for weeks!)
Next up: gooseberries!
You’re probably wondering a) what is a gooseberry, and b) what can you do with a gooseberry?
They have the texture of a grape, the interior appearance of a more-solid passionfruit, and the flavor of a slightly less sweet raspberry. Now you’re even more confused, I’m sure. Apparently you can make all sorts of tasty jams and jellies with them, but that didn’t sound nearly as fun as mixing them into a cocktail.
I kept it pretty simple with this drink. I initially wanted to do a take on a paloma, but gooseberries are such a strange ingredient that I didn’t want to overwhelm the palate with gooseberries, lime, and grapefruit.
I muddled six little gooseberries (Ryan pointed out that they look like little striped beach balls!), then added a 1/2 oz. of lime juice, 1/2 oz. of simple syrup, 1/2 oz. of St. Germain and a 2 oz. of Fidencio Clásico mezcal. Shake, strain and serve in a coupe, garnished with a lime wheel and a spare gooseberry.
When I went to buy the mezcal at Astor, I actually had the opportunity to meet Arik Torren, the chief operating officer of Fidencio Mezcal. Arik was hosting a tasting of all three of Fidencio’s mezcals and offering tastings of a few different cocktails made with them.
All of Fidencio’s mezcals are “sin humo,” or without smoke, which produces a lighter, smoother mezcal than some others on the market. I initially went into Astor to purchase another brand of mezcal, but after trying all three varieties of Fidencio, I was sold.
The finished product, which we’re calling La Grosella (gooseberry in Spanish), was similar to a margarita, as you would expect, but the mezcal added more depth than just a regular bottle of agave tequila would have. The gooseberries complemented the elderflower notes in the St. Germain, while the lime added a perfect citrus kick at the end of the palate.
I think this drink would be particularly good in a larger scale—perhaps in a pitcher at a barbecue? (If you host, I’ll make it.)
Finally, the chamomile.
The chamomile was a total impulse buy at the Union Square Greenmarket the other day.
We were down to our last dollar when I saw it and knew it was a must-get. A must-get for what, I didn’t know, but the ropy, fragrant vines sold me right away.
I made a few different drinks with it, but I ultimately decided it works best in a Tom Collins or Gin Fizz-type drink, and thus, the Chamomile Fizz was born.
I coarsely chopped the chamomile, blossoms and all, and muddled it with a 1/2 oz. of sugar and a 1/2 oz. of lemon juice. Then, I added 2 oz. of gin. We used Plymouth again here, but Hendrick’s would really be fantastic, if you have it. Then, add an egg white to the shaker.
Shake, strain, and serve in a Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with more chamomile.
If you shake vigorously enough (which you always should!), you should have a beautiful white, foamy head after topping with the soda. Ours almost looked like cream!
This drink, despite the feminine ingredient, was quite possibly the most manly of the bunch! The chamomile was incredibly earthy and played so well with the botanicals in the gin. It also remained subtle and not too sweet. It was a great drink to sip slowly, even after the enthusiastic foam had subsided.
We were quite pleased with this batch overall. If the market agrees and offers more fun bounty, we’ll be mixing even more creations up next week.