A Springtime Tipple: Persephone’s Dream

Persephone's Dream

We’ve missed you, Boozers. As we finally stretch our limbs after our winter’s hibernation, we’re coated with a thin layer of pollen and immersed in the scents of wisteria on the vine. Dearest Persephone, it’s about time you came to call.

Spring was in full force last weekend in Raleigh, and the Carolinas could not have been more welcoming, cloaked in greenery, humidity, and sunshine, a glimpse of the summer ahead. A visit to the North Carolina State Farmers Market revealed a treasure trove of truly fresh spring produce we can still only dream of in more northern climes: asparagus, ramps, frost collards, and, best of all, spring strawberries.

The strawberries of springtime recall the bittersweet story of Persephone, who was forced to spend four months of each year in the underworld, dreaming of the world she’d left behind; spring could only arrive when she was able to return above ground to be reunited with her mother. Spring strawberries, like Persephone, return hesitantly but joyously to the garden each year, the lightly sweet cousins of their summertime counterparts, holding within them the promise of carefree days ahead.

Persephone’s Dream

Campari tends to be a summertime tipple, but there’s no reason not to enjoy it at any time, especially to provide a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of spring strawberries. We’ve added a floral note with a splash of creme de violette, but you can achieve a similar quality with elderflower, rose, or even maraschino liqueur — start with smaller quantities then add more to suit your own taste.

2 tablespoons fresh strawberry purée

1 ounce Creme Yvette (or any of the substitutions suggested above)

1/2 ounce Campari

2 ounces chilled seltzer water

Fresh lime twist

Make the purée by liquefying 1/2 cup fresh strawberries in a blender or food processor with 1 teaspoon of light agave syrup and 1 tablespoon of water.

To make the drink, put the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with an ice cube and shake well. Remove the lid, add the chilled seltzer and stir well, then strain into a coupe. Twist the lime over the top of the drink to release the essential oils then drop the twist into the drink. Enjoy immediately.

The Holiday Tipple: Papa Elf’s Cranberry Daiquiri

Papa Elf's Cranberry Daiquiri

Ho ho ho, Boozers. The holiday season has managed to arrive amid all the usual hoopla and hypocrisies, yet somehow we still maintain our childlike wonder at a season full of magic and mystery. Off in a distant winter wonderland, elves are scurrying through sawdust-covered workshops in the rush of preparing for a global gift-giving extravaganza, and we imagine Papa Elf trudging back to his icicle-draped gingerbread cottage at the end of the day, wearily longing for an icy cocktail.

Like Papa Elf, Papa Hemingway also longed for a cocktail at the end of — or perhaps during — a long day of creating the gift of stories for the masses. Being in a somewhat warmer clime, Papa H was all about the daiquiri, tart with lime, warm with rum, then chilled, shaken and served straight up — devilishly simple. This is no syrupy Slurpee of a drink, but rather an elegant end to a day well spent in serving others. Now it’s time to serve yourself.

Papa Elf’s Cranberry Daiquiri

The basic concept of a true Hemingway daiquiri is that it should be mostly tart, but lightly sweet, possibly like the demeanor of a busy elf. While a classic daiquiri is made quite simply with lime juice, sugar, rum, and Maraschino liqueur, we’ve introduced some tart cranberry to give it a seasonal flair.

2 ounces silver rum (we like our local Lyon Distilling Company‘s white rum)

1.5 ounces fresh cranberry-ginger juice (recipe below)

.5 ounce Maraschino liqueur

wedge of fresh lime

Pour first three ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Squeeze in lime juice, stir once, then strain into a chilled Cosmopolitan glass.

to make the fresh cranberry-ginger juice: It may be tempting to use commercial cranberry juice — and you could — but don’t. You’ll be glad you did this. Take 1/2 cup fresh cranberries and a couple of 1/2-inch slices of fresh ginger and put them in a small saucepan with enough water to cover and 1/2 cup of sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, then pour into a blender with 3/4 cup of water. Blend on high until completely liquified, then strain out the solids — you may need to strain twice to get a nice clear liquid. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

 

 

The Garden Tipple: Sugarbaby Daiquiri

Sugarbaby Daiquiri

We’re parched, Boozers. Gardening is hard work, and we’ve done enough tilling, weeding, watering, and harvesting in the height of summer to last a lifetime — and it’s not even August. The air-conditioned comfort of the grocery store’s produce section begins to look mighty good when you’re covered in sweat and compost while you battle aphids and whatever just chewed up half your tomatoes during the night. But then the sugarbabies arrived and things started to look up.

A Sugar Baby is a common variety of miniature watermelon, often found in farmers markets and grocery stores under the moniker “personal watermelon”. They are small, and sweet, and utterly hydrating on a hot summer day, especially when rum is involved. We don’t usually go in for frozen drinks, and we generally like our daiquiris Hemingway-style, but sometimes an adult slurpee is really the only way to go when the mercury is on the rise. Slurp it up and drink it down.

Sugarbaby Daiquiri

Most frozen drinks are made with ice cubes, but we turn our noses up at that when we have watermelon available. As you might imagine, watermelon is mostly water and so, when cut into cubes, they freeze perfectly. They also freeze fairly quickly, so you’ll be ready to whip up your daiquiris within a couple of hours of freezing.

One Sugar Baby watermelon, preferably seedless, cut into chunks

2 ounces rum, preferably a lighter variety such as silver or gold (we used Mount Gay this time)

1 ounce hibiscus liqueur (we used Don Ciccio & Figli; if you don’t have that available to you, use St. Germain elderflower liqueur to add a floral note, or even Maraschino liqueur, which is generally used in traditional daiquiris)

1 fresh lime

Place the watermelon chunks into a plastic Ziploc bag and freeze until solid, about an hour or two. To make a good-sized daiquiri, place one cup of frozen watermelon chunks in a blender with the rum, liqueur, and the juice of half a lime. Blend on high for a few seconds — it won’t take long to break down the cubes and you want them to maintain a perfectly drinkable frozen purée. Serve immediately.