Hey there, readers!
The past weeks have been full of cooking and adventuring, but a distinct lack of blogging, so let’s get down to business:
September 1st came and went, and we at the Troika Table up and missed our second anniversary. Yep, this little ol’ blog is two years (and 29 days) old!
In blog years, two years and 29 days is basically drinking age (or at least it is in Europe), so I have a little cocktail for you.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about grapes and rosemary – it’s something about a grape’s sweet, juicy flesh and rosemary’s wintery woodiness. Wouldn’t that be nice to drink on a crisp fall evening? Wouldn’t a little ginger liqueur add a welcome, warming zip? I thought so. This drink is quite easy to pull together but does require you to plan ahead a few weeks: you’ve got to infuse your own grape vodka, after all. I used a mixture of seedless green and red grapes from our stand at the farmers’ market (Reid’s Orchard and Winery!) to infuse the last of the vodka left over from the second-annual Russian New Year’s party*. It was as easy as pie (or, more accurately, way easier than pie): Toss a pint’s worth of grapes into two cups of vodka, smush the grapes with a potato masher or fork, and infuse in a glass container for a few weeks, giving everything a stir and a few more smushes whenever you remember. After two weeks, the vodka will be a lovely shade of mauve and have a balanced, understated grape flavor. For the gingery bite, I added a touch of ginger liqueur that I made a while back (I followed this recipe exactly). Making your own ginger liqueur is fairly easy, but if infusing your vodka is as much DIY as you can handle, you can buy some ginger liqueur (Domaine de Canton is the only kind I know, but I’ve never actually tried it). You could also try adding a splash of ginger syrup, which would add the ginger zip and a bit of sweetness without adding more alcohol. To the vodka and liqueur, I added a few drops of bitters, but I admit that when I made a second one without bitters I couldn’t tell the difference.** Stir with a few ice cubes, top with club soda, tuck a short sprig of rosemary in the glass, and you have quite a drink. I really, really recommend that you add the rosemary sprig – its savory, woody smell offsets the sweetness of the drink perfectly, but you don’t actually taste the rosemary in the drink. Just don’t knock it ’til you try it, ok?
You’ll likely see a few more vodka-based cocktails around here in the future – my best friend Kelly and her fiancé (!!!) Gilbert have asked me to concoct three vodka-based cocktails for them to try, and they might choose one of them to serve at their wedding (!!!!!!!!) next September. I’m thinking this one would be nice, but I’ll let them decide.
Grape Vodka Fizz
For one drink:
- 2 ounces grape vodka (recipe below)
- 1/2 ounce ginger liqueur, homemade or otherwise
- club soda
- 1 to 2-inch sprig of rosemary
- a few dashes of bitters, if you happen to have them
Add 5 or 6 ice cubes to a short glass. Pour the grape vodka, ginger liqueur, and bitters (if using). Stir to combine and chill. Top with club soda, stir a few times, and add the rosemary sprig.
- 1 pint (about 2 cups) grapes – I used a mix of seedless red Suffolk and seedless green Thompson grapes
- 2 cups vodka (I used Skyy, another high(ish) quality like Stolichnaya or Russian Standard would do)
Combine grapes and vodka in a glass container or jar, smashing grapes to extract some juice. Cover the container and infuse in the refrigerator for up to two weeks for lots of grape flavor, or one week for a subtle grape flavor. Whenever you happen to remember (ideally every few days, but I only did it once in the two-week period), stir the vodka around and smash the grapes a bit more to extract more juice. Strain and store in your refrigerator.
If the description, recipe, and pictures aren’t enough to convince you to try the Grape Vodka Fizz, consider this anecdote:
Today at market, a certain someone who works for NPR (and shall remain nameless because I don’t want to be that blogger), was telling us how he or she likes to muddle our grapes in cocktails. I, naturally, chimed in that I infused vodka with our grapes and crafted a drink with the infused vodka, ginger liqueur, and a sprig of rosemary. To my delight, the certain someone reacted with an “Ooooh!” and a fellow customer inquired “What kind of ginger liqueur did you use?” to which I replied “Well, I made my own, but you could buy some.” The certain someone correctly interpreted my statement to mean “Well, I made my own, because I’m awesome, but if you want to, you could buy some, although it’s less awesome.” Basically, this cocktail got a vote of confidence from this certain someone, so clearly you should try it, too.
*Btw, that iPhone that was stolen? Totally got it back. I see you, Instagram. I see you.
**An aside: Do people really notice the difference without bitters? (Am I supposed to ask that?) I know adding bitters is a thing and it sounds like you know what you’re doing, but really, can you actually tell the difference in a drink made sans bitters? I guess if your drink is club soda and bitters, then yes, you can tell, but if it’s club soda + other things that have lots of flavor + bitters, can you really taste the difference? Please know that in asking this I’m also teetering a thin line with Braeden, who will always espouse the use of bitters in his beloved rum drinks, or in other words, I’m probably questioning our relationship, sort of.