The Friday Tipple: La Primavera

La Primavera

We’re back on the spring bandwagon, Boozers. It keeps creeping ever closer, little by little, and we’re not about to argue. Flowers are blossoming, bees are buzzing, and the farmers markets are starting to feature fresh vegetables that did not grow under the ground — not that we don’t enjoy a good root vegetable as much as the next person. What we’re crushing on this week are those little darlings of spring, fresh sweet peas.

Before you recoil in horror, let us say that these are not cafeteria peas, cooked down to mush with a color that can only be described as, well, pea green. These are those charmingly cherubic spheres that are the brightest hue of spring green, like a new blade of grass and just as sweet. And, yes, they make a lovely cocktail. We know it’s hard to fathom, but open your minds, just like you are opening your windows to a soft spring breeze — if you must drink your vegetables, then this is surely the way to do it.

La Primavera

We created this recipe for Don Ciccio & Figli, an absolutely wonderful distiller of seriously hand-made Italian liqueurs in Washington, DC. Each flavor is like a jewel-toned work of art; this particular drink features limoncello, and a good limoncello should be a clear lemon-yellow color (not day-glo yellow, which likely means artificial colors have been added) and you should be overwhelmed with the scent of fresh lemons when you open the bottle — if it smells like Country Time Lemonade, then something has gone seriously wrong.

1 ounce fresh pea juice
2 ounces limoncello
1 ounce gin (we always use Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin; please support your local distiller)
chilled club soda (optional — see below)

Make the fresh pea juice: take 1/2 cup clean peas (you can use frozen peas if fresh are not available, just defrost them first) and put them in a blender with 1/2 cup water. Purée thoroughly, then strain completely so that you have just a clear green liquid. Can be refrigerated for up to two days.

Place first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake thoroughly. At this point, you have two options: strain into a cosmopolitan glass and drink it as is, or pour into a tall glass filled with ice and top with chilled club soda. It’s preferable to garnish with early spring strawberries, sweet cherry tomatoes, or a few fresh pea shoots, but a lemon wedge will do just as well.


The Friday Tipple: Sorrento Spring Crush

Sorry to Spring Crush

We’re crushing, Boozers. Daffodils are gaily poking up through the snow and the March winds are carrying the swallows back to their roosts. Spring is in the air and we are ready to welcome it with open arms.

Our thoughts have turned to limoncello in our perennial late winter search for sunshine — when limoncello is done right, it has a bright tartness layered with rich caramel undertones. When it’s done wrong, it tastes like liquid saccharin dusted with powdered lemon. Limoncello aficionados prefer this liqueur only when made with Sorrento lemons, but many good limoncellos are made with more common varieties. It’s quite easy to make at home and many small distilleries are popping up around the country, so check your local area. Our Sorrento Spring Crush is an herbaceous love letter to spring: how do we love thee, let us count the ways…

Sorrento Spring Crush

We love the flavor combination of anise and lemon, especially in the springtime, when we turn our faces up to capture the fleeting warmth of weak sunshine. Hyssop is an herb that can often be found growing wild in spring but also can be found dried for tea consumption. It has a light licorice flavor and can be used as the base for a simple syrup, or reduced into a concentrate as we have done here to add a warm herbal undertone.

3 ounces chilled prosecco

1.5 ounces chilled limoncello (we are fortunate to have gorgeous Don Ciccio & Figli Limoncello in our local area — be jealous)

1 tablespoon reduced hyssop tea (brew a cup and simmer over a low flame until reduced by half, then cool completely)

lemon wedge

fresh fennel fronds

Put lemon wedge and fennel fronds in the base of a large wine glass and muddle thoroughly. Add a few ice cubes, hyssop tea, limoncello, and prosecco, and stir vigorously. Garnish with additional fennel and serve immediately.

The Friday Tipple: Mr. Collins

We adore a pompous fool, Boozers. In fact, if we are honest, we have strolled down that perilous path once or twice, only to have our balloon of self-admiration popped unceremoniously by a worthy opponent. It’s why we love Jane Austen, and also why we enjoy a tasty little concoction — once known as the official drink of summer — called a Tom Collins.

In the far-off years of our youth, we recall our first foray into a nightclub, armed with a fake i.d. and a few crumpled dollar bills stuffed into our spandex tights. As the hairy-chested bartender cocked a cynical eye at our underage attempt at sophisticated nonchalance, we stuttered out a request for a Tom Collins — clearly marking us as urbane world travelers.

Alas, what we didn’t realize was that we had immediately marked ourselves as more akin to the inimitable Mr. Collins, the silly social-climbing vicar in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; Elizabeth Bennett had him pegged in five seconds flat, and would certainly never have accepted a watery Tom Collins made with a slug of cheap gin and a splash of sour mix, topped off with club soda and a maraschino cherry stabbed with a plastic sword. Just like Elizabeth, we now know we don’t have to settle for second-best.

So we’ve imagined Mr. Collins as he should be, if transformed into a refreshing cocktail: bright, fresh, lightly herbal, and blessed with a sparkling wit. Watch out, Mr. Darcy — there may be competition yet.

Mr. Collins

We’ve made a summery lemonade base for our Mr. Collins, sweetened with a pineapple sage simple syrup. If you don’t have this charming herb growing in your garden or on your windowsill, you can make a simple syrup with mint (especially a pineapple or orange mint), which will impart that sunny herbaceous quality.

4 or 5 lemons, freshly juiced

Pineapple sage simple syrup (see below for instructions)

Chilled club soda

2 ounces good quality gin (like Catoctin Creek’s Organic Watershed Gin)

Chilled Prosecco or sparkling wine

Orange wedge and sprig of sage or mint for garnish

Make the fizzy lemonade base by combining the fresh lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons of the simple syrup, and a 1/2 cup of the club soda. Stir vigorously and add more simple syrup if necessary. Fill a Collins (tall) glass with ice and pour in the gin and up to a 1/2 cup of lemonade. Top with an ounce or so of chilled Prosecco and garnish with orange and sage.

The simple syrup is a snap: one cup of water, one cup of sugar, and several sage (or mint) leaves cooked over low heat until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove sage leaves and cool; can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.