beverages

Mezcal Paloma

The majority of the time, I'm the one who prepares dinner.  It makes sense. I'm home before Eric, I can often get to the store... plus, I enjoy doing it. It's not that he can't cook or that he's not good at it (he's actually very good), it's just become a task that I've taken over. But why not find some time to cook together? The idea has been lingering in my mind ever since I read Ashley's Date Night In, a cookbook featuring recipes and stories from the evenings she and her husband spend preparing dishes. I found the whole thing truly inspiring and at one point even suggested it... but over a year went by gone and we never followed through. A few weeks ago, however, after a particularly hectic week, Eric suggested that we spend our Saturday night at home. The lightbulb flickered on. "Hey, we have all of these cookbooks around. Why don't we make something from one of them?" We pulled out a recent addition to our collection that features authentic Chinese recipes, made a list, went to the store, and cooked up a storm. The food was incredible. Probably the best we've ever made. And we did it together (all while sipping on palomas). This past weekend we did it again, this time going in a more Mediterranean direction: braised octopus, roasted eggplant, whipped goat cheese, and homemade pita (that evening we went with martinis).

The paloma, featured here, is an easy, refreshing drink. Typically it includes tequila, but I like the slightly smoky notes the mezcal provides. A simpler version of the recipe can be made by using grapefruit soda instead of the fresh grapefruit juice, sugar and soda water, but if you have grapefruits on hand, I prefer this method. 

MEZCAL PALOMA

GLASSWARE
Highball or rocks glass

YIELD
1 drink

INGREDIENTS
Kosher salt
1 lime wedge
1/4 ounce lime juice
2 ounces grapefruit juice
2 ounces mezcal (or tequila)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces soda water
1 grapefruit wedge, for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. To rim the glass, pour salt onto a plate. Rub the rim of the glass with the lime wedge and then dip the rim into the salt, spin slowly until rim is lightly coated in salt.

2. Pour lime juice, grapefruit juice, mezcal and sugar into a glass. Using a spoon, stir until sugar has dissolved. Fill glass with ice cubes and top with soda water. 

Cucumber-Thai Basil Gin and Tonic

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One might think that a gin and tonic is impossible to mess up. And on a level that's true. But a well-made one has a good amount of lime, at least two ounces of gin (no less, maybe a little more) and is topped with tonic (ideally without HFCS or quinine). Like any good cocktail, you don't want any one ingredient overpowering the others, so the proportions are key. This is what's consumed most on the Cape, often as we prepare dinner and watch the sunset over the lake. Now, I don't like to mess with a good thing, but I had this idea of adding a few more ingredients. We had some leftover Thai basil in the fridge and a few cucumbers and I thought that if there were any two ingredients that could possibly make a G+T even more enjoyable to drink, it'd be these. It works beautifully together and, as I suspected, these are very easy to sip on. 

Cucumber Thai Basil Gin and Tonic

Yield
1 drink

Glassware
Highball glass

Tools
Jigger
Muddler

Ingredients
2 oz gin
1 thickly cut slice of cucumber, peeled and chopped into a few pieces
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 Thai basil leaves, ripped into pieces
Tonic

Thai basil, for garnish

Directions
Pour the lime juice and gin into the highball glass. Add the cucumber and Thai basil and muddle for 30 seconds, until the they've broken up and the cucumber has released juices. 

Fill 3/4 of the way with ice cubes. Fill the remainder of the glass with tonic. Garnish with a bunch of Thai basil.

 

Fresh Peach Daiquiri

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Last weekend, Eric and I hosted our first summer barbecue. For many years, we organized a winter gathering somewhere around the end of January or beginning of February and we'd trek out onto our snow-covered porch and fire up the grill.  That became a tradition and we kept it going for a while, until the year we moved and then things fizzled out. We had this weekend blocked off for months because my friend Mandy was having a surprise birthday thrown for her (normally we'd be on the Cape). As soon as we heard about it I said to Eric, "We have to use this as an opportunity to throw a barbecue in our backyard!" And so we did. Friends gathered outside, dining under tents we put up. There was a ton of food (way more than we needed) and homemade rosemary lemonade with bottles of booze next to it so people could add their own. The weather was incredible, which was a nice surprise seeing that the forecast had called for thunderstorms. It was exactly what we'd wanted it to be and we hope to do it again next year. 

I made a lot of the dishes for our party using our new blender that we ordered the other week. It was an impulse buy... on-sale on Amazon for one day and we decided that it was time that we get one. It is amazing the number of things you can do with a blender. I made baba ganoush and hummus and dressings for different salads. I'm not sure how I ever managed without one!

And then there are these fresh peach daiquiris (which were not served at the barbecue... sorry friends!). I blended up some ripe peaches with a little sugar and lemon juice to make a puree. A tablespoon of that added to the shaker with rum (I used some Diplomatico, which paired nicely with the peach), lime juice, and just a touch of agave (if you like it to be a bit more tangy, this can be left out). All of that is shaken with ice and strained to make for one tasty summer cocktail. These are best served on a porch, overlooking a body of water with a warm breeze hitting your face.  That's just my recommendation. 

Fresh Peach Daiquiri

Yield
1 Drink


Glassware
Coup

Ingredients
For the cocktail
3/4 oz. lime juice
2 oz. light or dark rum (I think dark rum holds up better with the peach puree)
1 tablespoon peach puree (see recipe below)
1/2 tsp. agave

Directions
1. In a cocktail shaker, add the lime juice, rum, peach puree and agave. Shake with ice.

2. Strain into chilled coup glass. 

Ingredients
For the peach puree
2 ripe peaches, pitted and diced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions
1. Add the peaches, sugar and lemon juice to a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Press through a sieve and strain to remove any pieces.