gin

Gin Coconut Cooler

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It took me 14 years of living in New England, but I finally made it to Portland. The word all over Boston was that this city had an impressive food and drink scene. I'd heard restaurants named over and over again by friends within the hospitality industry. Now, people who live in Boston traditionally fall into two categories: those who head up to Maine, and those who go down to the Cape. We fall into the latter group, and it's almost impossible to get us to take any trips from April through November. Which only gives us the winter months to get away. Towards the end of last year, I told Eric I couldn't take it any longer. We had to go.  

During our time in Portland, we stayed at the Press Hotel, a charming property centrally located within walking distance to many great restaurants, bars, and shops. Our first stop was at Eventide, a seafood-extravaganza that made this pescatarian very happy. From there we got drinks at the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club and Blyth and Burrows, which are just a few blocks away from each other (and only a couple minutes from where we stayed). Dinner was even more convenient: at Union Restaurant, on the ground level of the Press. After dinner, we walked briskly through the 19-degree air to the other side of town for some drinks at Bearded Lady's Jewel Box, a bar so charming I wish I could've bottled it up and taken the whole vibe home. The night ended around the corner at Chaval, a Spanish-themed restaurant and bar. Too full to get more than some tapas, we ordered the boquerones and a cocktail and were perfectly content. That was just our first night. The rest of the weekend was spent doing more of the same: trying bites at different spots, meeting chefs, bartenders and distillers along the way. By the end, we felt like we were a part of the community (which shows just how warm and welcoming everyone is). There will undoubtedly be a return trip, and I don't expect it'll take us as long to get back up. 

Activities like our trip to Portland are what get us through the winter months. I'm always trying to plan things for the weekends. Shows to see, restaurants to check out, friends to brunch with. It's the only way we can deal with the snow and cold. Another thing that helps me forget about the dreary weather is festive cocktails. These usually involves lots of lime and herbs (typically, mint). I know some folks (including my wonderful husband) who have major issues with cilantro, but I can't get enough of it in drinks. The fragrant citrus notes pair beautifully with the botanicals of a dry gin. A little heat (and a slight tingly/numbing effect) is provided from the Sichuan peppercorn syrup, but the creamy coconut milk keeps it mellow.

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Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food
Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food

Gin Coconut Cooler
Yield: 1 drink
Tools: cocktail shakermuddlercocktail strainer
Glassware: Rocks glass

Ingredients:
1 oz Sichuan peppercorn simple syrup (see recipe below)
1.25 oz lime juice
6-8 cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
2 oz gin
.5 oz green chartreuse
1 oz full-fat coconut milk

Directions:
Add lime juice, cilantro, and simple syrup to cocktail shaker. Muddle cilantro. Add gin, green chartreuse, and coconut milk, along with 3-4 ice cubes, and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass. Fill glass to the top with crushed ice. Garnish with cilantro.

Sichuan Peppercorn Simple Syrup
Yield: 1 cup
Tools: saucepan, strainer

Ingredients:
3  tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions:
In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Add Sichuan peppercorns to the pot, turn off heat, and cover with a lid. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain Sichuan peppercorns from the pot, reserving liquid. Put the liquid back in the pan, along with the sugar. Set over medium-high heat. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. Take off heat. Let the syrup cool completely before using. Store in a container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Gin Coconut Cooler from A Thought For Food

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.

 

Strawberry Thyme Gin Rickey

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We finally got around to planting our annual batch of tomatoes and herbs (along with hot peppers and cucumbers). For a while, we'd talked about doing raised beds, but, to be honest, I don't think we're ready to commit to something like that. Between the produce we get from our coop and what we grow in our pots, we're doing just fine. That may change in the future, but, for now, we're content with what we have. 

At the end of a long day, I like to walk around and see how our plants are doing, often with a gin and tonic in hand. We've skipped over spring and are in full-blown summer mode here, which means we're all about the g+ts (or t+ts (tequila) or r+ts (rum)). Whatever it is, it has to be refreshing... something with bubbles and lots of lime. I'm also a fan of incorporating herbs into my drinks. For a fancy, gin and tonic, I'll add sprigs of rosemary to provide some aromatics. 

I bought strawberries at the store and quickly forgot about them (shame, I know). I remembered just before they started to turn and decided the perfect use for them would be a festive summer drink. A batch of simple syrup, with the berries and thyme, makes a wonderful seasonal cocktail. Here's to warm, sunny days... hopefully spent by a lake or beach! 

Strawberry Thyme Gin Rickey

Yield
6 drinks

Glassware
Highball glasses

Tools
Jigger
Fine mesh sieve


Ingredients

For the strawberry-thyme syrup
1 cup sliced strawberries
.25 cup sugar
1.25 cups water
2 fresh thyme sprigs

For each cocktail
1.75 oz gin
1 oz lime
.75 oz strawberry thyme syrup
Ice
Soda water

Garnish
Sliced strawberries
Thyme sprigs

Directions

1. To make the strawberry-thyme syrup, heat sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. Add sliced strawberries and thyme and continue to cook until strawberries are mushy. Press the strawberries to release all their juices. Let syrup cool and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Syrup can be stored in a glass jar with a lid for up to 1 month.

2. To prepare each drink, pour gin, lime juice, and strawberry-thyme syrup into a highball glass. Add ice and top with soda water. 

3. Garnish with sliced strawberries and thyme sprigs.