Aunt Suzy says

I feel like I’ve fallen down on the job with summer cocktails after announcing that we were going to try different ones this summer and post our favorites.   This cocktail really isn’t a cocktail at all, but an apperetif  served in outdoor cafes all over Venice, Italy.  When we were in Venice in 2004 we loved going to the cafes in Campo Santa Margherita which was near where we stayed.  We noticed everyone was ordering an orange iced beverage which we quickly learned was called a Spritz (pronounced Sprees).  It is made with Aperol, an apperetif made by the same folks who bring us Campari, and prosecco, the ubiquitous bubbly of the Veneto region of Italy.  So refreshing, lovely and low in alcohol!  It tickled us that when you ordered Spritz it came with a small bowl of potato chips!  This seemed incongruent with Italy, but then we remembered that this region borders Austria, Germany and Slovenia, all of which have influence on the food of Venice. 

When we returned from our trip, I looked all over for Aperol.  Campari it seems is everywhere, but we didn’t see Aperol in liquor stores or in bars.  But, lo and behold, there it was on Saturday at my favorite funky Twin Cities liquor store, Hennepin-Lake Liquors.  I grabbed it up and made the Spritz cocktails for our card party at the Eklund’s that night.  The recipe on the back of the Aperol bottle is 1 1/2 ounces Aperol, 2 ounces prosecco and a splash of club soda over ice, garnished with an orange slice served in a double rocks glass.  We all agreed that more prosecco would be better.  Don’t forget the potato chips!   Sue’s brother, Steve (a card-player extraordonaire), was in town and he is modelling the required “look” for when you drink Spritz.

Aunt Suzy says

Our exploration of summer cocktails continues.  I mentioned in a previous post that Randy was experimenting with Gimlets after seeing an article on them in a local magazine.  Coincidentally, friend Christie Quinn went to a class out in San Francisco on how to make Gimlets and sent us 3 different recipes for the drink – from basic to what looks like Gimlets on steroids.  We made the basic last night and it was so much better than the concoction we tried with Rose’s Lime Juice (yuck!).   Randy also made this outstanding hummus recipe that was featured on Fresh Tart, a local food blog I follow.  The promise was for tasty and creamy homemade hummus rather than the usual gloppy (my word), and we really liked it.  Another thing that attracted us, besides the creaminess, was the use of preserved lemon.  Most of the time when you use preserved lemon in recipes, you throw out the pulp, but this recipe used peel and pulp.  We had some pulp left over from the recent tagine we made, so we added that.  A winning hummus that we will make again (and probably tinker with, knowing us)!

Gimlet (amount we used for 2 cocktails)

1 1/2 parts Gin, Hendrick’s recommended (3 shots)

3/4 part simple syrup (2 jiggers)

3/4 part fresh lime juice (2 jiggers)

cucmber slice

Place cocktail glasses in the freezer a couple of hours prior to the cocktail hour.  (I love this instruction because it assumes that we all have a cocktail hour 🙂 vs. stating “prior to serving”.)  Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into glasses.  Garnish with a slice of cucumber.  Randy and I tried it both up and on the rocks and both liked rocks better given how hot it was out at the time (even though we know this is probably heresy to Gimlet purists). 

Aunt Suzy says

Randy and I have named this the summer of the “summer cocktail”.    We started out with the Strawberry Prosecco Muddle and then moved on to Gimlets (made with gin).  Since raspberries are prolific now here in Minnesota (we got ours from Paul Schulz at Mill City), we decided to try this recipe from a recent Bon Appetit.  It calls for rose water, which we didn’t have and didn’t buy since it was only 1/4 teaspoon.  A very refreshing drink!  Plus there was so much fruit left over in the glass, we’re going to use this for a second drink tonight! 

serves 4

3 cups fresh raspberries

1 cup gin

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon rose water (optional)

club soda

Mix all ingredients except the club soda in a bowl and let sit for an hour, occasionally stirring and crushing some of the berries.  Place crushed or cubed ice in double rocks glasses.  Add as much club soda as you’d like – we did just a couple of tablespoons.

Strawberry Season!

June 21, 2010

Aunt Suzy says

Strawberries have been available for a couple of weeks up here in Minnesota and I can’t get enough of them!  There are so many things one can do with them from the simple – on top of a morning bowl of cereal – to more difficult – like fancy jams and preserves.  One of my favorite new things that I discovered last year is this drink which is made for summer.  I’ve served these twice recently and think that more are in my future.  They are a great reason to invite people over to hang out on the deck or the front porch now that it is officially summer!

STRAWBERRY-PROSECCO MUDDLE

Make a simple syrup by placing 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan.  On medium heat, stir till the sugar dissolves.  Turn up heat and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes.  Cool the syrup.  This will make enough syrup for about 12 drinks.

In double rocks glasses, place about 1/3 cup strawberries that have been hulled and cut in half.   Add 1 tablespoon of the cooled simple syrup and then “muddle” by mashing a little.  Add 1 slice of lemon and press to release the juice.  While the recipe did not call for this, I think it’s good to let this sit for 30-60 minutes  – if you can wait that long, that is.

Add 2-4 ice cubes to each glass and fill with Prosecco – no need to buy the very best quality for this drink.  (Now that I look at the photo, I see that we did not remember the ice cubes!  Delicious either way based on my up-close-and-personal experience. :-))