Shaking It Up

I have always been fascinated by cocktails.  And that’s hardly an exaggeration—even as a little kid I would amuse myself in restaurants by reading the cocktail menus over and over and imagining which one I would choose if I were allowed.

I wasn’t interested in the alcohol.  In fact, I hadn’t the slightest clue what any of the various alcohols tasted like, so I would skip past those and focus on the other ingredients.  What captured my attention were the seemingly limitless combinations of juices, syrups, sodas, fruit, herbs, and, of course, garnishes.  If I remember correctly, I also used to involve my parents in this game, asking which cocktail they would choose or offering them my own recommendations (based solely on the non-alcoholic ingredients).  They probably had to contend with more than a few disapproving stares over the years!

However, now that I am all grown up myself I can finally indulge in my fascination with these beautiful (and tasty) drinks.

In pursuit of this goal, I have recently acquired a wonderful Boston shaker and strainer from William Sonoma.   This thing is seriously the best.  It is so much fun to use, and the results have so far been delicious.

Now I’m not advanced enough yet to confidently create fancy cocktails from scratch with no recipe, so for now I’ve settled for observation and shameless copycatting.  Here are a few of my favorite creations so far:

The Daryl

The following is my interpretation of a recipe made by Daryl Koopersmith.  The credit for the original recipe is all his, the adjustments all mine.

  • Gin
  • Lime juice
  • Lavender syrup*
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Ginger beer

*To make the lavender syrup, boil one cup of water with one cup of sugar and several sprigs of fresh or dried lavender until the sugar is dissolved and the solution is tinted brown.

  1. Muddle a handful of fresh basil leaves at the bottom of a shaker.
  2. Pour over two parts gin, one part lime juice, and one part lavender syrup.
  3. Add ice, seal, and shake vigorously to combine.
  4. Strain the mixture into a glass and top with ginger beer.
  5. Enjoy!

The Painkiller / The Bellombra

This is a classic from the British Virgin Islands.  I discovered the recipe through Jaclyn and Simon, my fellow students abroad, while living in Bologna.  The first version below is the original.  The second is the makeshift version we put together in Italy where the ingredients were much harder to find (and more expensive).

  • Dark rum
  • Pineapple juice
  • Orange juice
  • Cream of coconut
  • Nutmeg
  1. Pour two parts rum, four parts pineapple juice, one part orange juice, and one part cream of coconut into a shaker.
  2. Add ice, seal, and shake vigorously to combine.
  3. Strain the frothy mixture into a glass.
  4. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg.
  5. Enjoy!
  • Rum (ideally dark)
  • Orange juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • Coconut milk
  • Nutmeg
  1. Pour something approximating a shot of rum into an empty nutella jar.  Add a fair amount of orange juice and splashes of pineapple juice and coconut milk.
  2. Stir.
  3. Top with nutmeg.
  4. Enjoy almost as much!

So that’s a taste of what I’ve been working on so far.  But check back later!  I’m in the process of perfecting my own Bloody Mary.

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