Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vodka for St. Patrick's Day? Why, not?

Saint Patrick's Day is one of my favorite times of the year. Winter is blowing it's last breathe as the sun emerges stronger everyday bringing much needed heat and sunshine to the Bay Area. 
I also love this time of year because everything is starting to turn that glorious rich color of green. Spring vegetables are on the horizon and the fragrance of sweet peas fill the air.

Mostly, I am thrilled to celebrate a woman who brought heritage, tradition and family together in a very special way. My Great Grandmother. Wish I had known her personally and captured all the rich and vibrant heritage of Ireland....and ask the burning question... was my red hair at birth attributed to her genes?

Anyway....thought I'd pay a tribute to all these ideas with a new almost spring - ready for Saint Patrick's Day Martini.

First I started with hot house cucumbers and Grey Goose Vodka. Cut the cucumbers into thin slices. The thinner the better and placed them in a glass bottle. Then, pour vodka to the top of the bottle. Seal with plastic wrap or cover with lid overnight. I only infused the vodka for one day. I wanted to avoid the possible bitter taste of prolonging the infusion. The taste is spicy and refreshing. The next morning strain the liquid into another vessel and reserve the cucumbers for caviar or simply toss them. Trust me they are pungent with the taste of straight up vodka.

Next, I made simple syrups of mint, lime and cilantro. CILANTRO?!? Are you kidding me? Trust me this was a great idea. Cool the simple syrups for a 1/2 an hour on the counter and then chill overnight. Simple syrup recipe is ...well, simple. 2 cups of water, 1 cup of regular granulated sugar...simmer on low until sugar is dissolved. WARNING: Do not boil the water. Turn off heat and toss in lime zest. Next batch is mint and finally cilantro.

Lastly, I packed the ingrediants up and took them over my friends house to conduct a taste test.
                                                                                                                                                                   First mixture:
The Team - Simple syrups make life so much easier when mixing cocktails.

2 oz cucumber vodka
1 oz lime simple syrup
1 oz lime juice
1 oz mint simple syrup.
garnish with mint leaves

This is a very subtle cocktail. It might even beg for someone to say, "Is there vodka in my glass"? Most of my seasonal or harvest type cocktails are subtle. But, make no mistake...visible signs of inebriation occured after two drinks. And, no this is not one of those "sickingly-sweet" drinks they serve at most restaurants. It's cool, light and very tasty...with a kick.

The Tasting Crew...Thanks for being the taste testers.

Cucumber Vodka with a twist! Chile Lemon sprinkled just before serving

Cucumber Lime Martini - refreshing and crisp!

Second cocktail of the evening added to additional ingrediants. One, cilantro simple syrup (1 oz) and a sprinkle of Chile Limon. This drink was my favorite. The cilantro mixed with the lime juice and mint gave the drink a whole different character and the spices gave it some heat. I'd drink this again...but, I donated my and all to my "taste-tester hostess".

The green color? The faint colors of the lime, cucumber vodka, mint were heightened by the tint of the greeen martini glass. 

I hope you try these recipes or make up your own and write me with your thoughts and ideas.

Great Grandmother...My Irish heritage

Remember...your passed loved one, remember the rich cultural history, but ALWAYS remember cooking with LOVE makes everything taste better.

Sláinte, Great Grandmother!