Category Archives: beverages

Spice Rack Challenge(s): Mint and Basil

So I missed June’s challenge (mint) and almost missed this month’s challenge (basil) to boot. Bad, neglectful blogger. We’ve been in the thick of heat waves here in the Northeast, with maybe a day or two of temporary relief in between. Correlation? Causation? Who knows.

In any case, I’ve only had one thing on the brain. After a long walk to a roasting car at the end of a long workday – you know the ones where you can literally see the heat lines radiating off the pavement – what else? A cold drink, naturally. Adult beverages or otherwise, I’ve been craving fruity, bubbly refreshment at all times. They vary widely different depending on the day, but most of them follow the theme of fruit + ice + bubbles + maybe herbs + maybe booze. As you saw in the last post a Cherry Lime Rickey variation has been a favorite of late.  Here are my other two.

Blueberry Basil Ginger Chiller
Three tablespoons of blueberry butter (a la Marisa at Food in Jars)
Ginger Ale
Siam Basil (spicier than its Italian cousin)
Crystallized Ginger

Easy peasy: Spoon the bluberry butter into your glassware of choice. A pint jar, a pint glass, a quart jar… I won’t tell. Add your basil and chopped ginger, and muddle until fragrant – a great stress reliever after work, if need be. Add ice, top with ginger ale.

I’ve kept this one sans booze, but I think a little vodka would work well in this one.

Pineapple Mint Peach Rum Fizz
Three tablespoons of peach jam
One large sprig pineapple mint
One ounce Kraken Spiced Rum
Ginger Ale

Same method as above: spoon jam into a jar, add mint and muddle, add rum, add ice and top with ginger ale. Also tasty without rum, but a bit of grade B maple syrup would work well in its stead. Try not to relax with one of these in your hand. I dare you.

➝If you make jam, your options are endless. If you don’t make jam, there’s no time like the present to start! If ‘ hot to turn on the stove, maybe an infusion, maceration, cordial or syrup is up your alley?
➝Try a shrub. Its got a vinegar tang, for a little something unexpected.
➝New flavor combinations: raspberry + tequila, meyer lemon marmalade + vodka + rosemary, or maybe something savory like tomato jam + vodka + chives + seltzer/tonic? Could be interesting. Share other ideas in the comments.

Oh, and can someone please tell me when this heat is supposed to let up? It’s getting a little melty in Snowflake Kitchen. Til then, I’ll tide myself over with these.

Ginger Pear Whiskey Smash

Sometimes you just need a cocktail. For whatever reason – hard day at work, grumpy mood, nasty commute… or cause you have all the delicious ingredients on hand and why not? Or – as seems to be happening more frequently around here – you look in the larder and find inspiration in one of your preserves. I had a lovely jar of pears put up in the fall in a light tea-flavored syrup. Thus, a cocktail was born.

Ginger Pear Whiskey Smash
1 part Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 part sugar syrup
1 whole preserved pear, cut into chunks
3 pieces crystallized ginger – 2 to muddle, 1 to garnish

Open your jar of pears or use fresh. Cut into small chunks. Add fresh or crystallized ginger. Muddle with equal parts whiskey and syrup. Let flavors mix for 5ish minutes… or however long you can stand it. Strain, pour over ice into your glass of choice and top with ginger ale.  Garnish with crystallized ginger, relax and enjoy.

1. Use Jameson Irish Whiskey. Accept no substitutes. If you don’t like whiskey, this drink isn’t for you. I would suggest that you try it though, it tends to win over converts.
2. You need one part syrup. I used a combination of the pear/tea syrup and some simple syrup. To taste – as sweet as you like. I bet infusing ginger into the tea syrup for a more pronounced ginger flavor would be great.
3. Many of the other whiskey smash recipes I’ve found use herbs. Like Bless Her Heart’s Blackberry Smash and The Kitchn’s Peach Whiskey Smash. I bet thyme or mint would be a fun addition to this one.