Spring is in the air, Boozers. We hear that snow is falling across the Midwest, but, for today at least, it’s practically sultry in our neck of the woods. Daffodils are rearing their scrawny necks and ducks are eyeing each other amorously. The breeze is redolent with the scent of raw promise.
A box of fresh produce from Washington’s Green Grocers landed on the doorstep yesterday, inspiring us with some of its early spring offerings — namely, lovely little beets, bursting with rosy goodness. Their earthy sweetness is, we believe, a perfect complement to the bright woodsy notes found in gin, culminating in an infusion that recalls springtime hikes through primeval forests, where crocuses peep through the detritus of winter and toadstools beckon innocently from the shadows.
While we tend to think of vegetables as used only occasionally in more savory cocktails — the Bloody Mary, for instance — there are many that also lend a subtle sweetness to hand-crafted drinks. Our little box of produce also yielded several gorgeous watermelon radishes, which, with their sugary spiciness are sure to find themselves more intimately incorporated into an upcoming concoction, rather than only being relegated to a pretty garnish.
Throw off the confines of winter, Boozers — spring awaits.
Our housemade St. Germain-based lemon soda is a tasty complement to our beet-infused gin, which we think lends a floral undertone to our homage to spring. It’s incredibly easy to make, but you can substitute a commercial lemon soda if you prefer.
1 small raw beet, peeled and grated
1/2 cup gin (we prefer Catoctin Creek’s Organic Watershed Gin)
raw sugar (regular granulated sugar is fine as well)
juice of one fresh lemon
1 ounce St. Germain liqueur
1 teaspoon light agave nectar
3 ounces club soda or mineral water
To make the beet infusion: Put grated beets in a cup or jar with a large pinch of raw sugar. Top with gin and allow to sit, uncovered, for one or two hours. Strain and set aside.
To make the lemon soda: Put the lemon juice, St. Germain, agave nectar and club soda in a glass and stir vigorously until well-incorporated. Do this just before assembling the cocktail to maintain the carbonation.
Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the lemon soda. Pour 1.5 ounces of beet-infused gin over the top — do not stir, but leave it layered. Garnish with lemon, fresh herbs, or a slice of watermelon radish (optional). Drink up.