Today is exciting.
I’m headed to the Quad Cities this afternoon for a resurrection, but not the biblical type. It’s the rebirth of some of the best times I had in my thirties. Before I held girls weekend reunions up North, I participated in another type of getaway – the annual Owen shopping trip. For several years my mom, her eclectic sisters and my cousins would gather together for a weekend filled with shopping, martinis, and side-splitting laughter. Look up “riot” in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, and a picture of this crowd should accompany the first and fourth definitions of the word. Our little tradition fell apart one year, and I missed those hilarious times greatly. So last year a couple of my cousins and I started talking about resurrecting the shopping trip. Today through Sunday marks hopefully the first of many future trips – and this time, the Princess is included.
Next week I’ll share the cocktail en masse I’m contributing to tonight’s fun. We’re all meeting at my mom’s house to finalize plans for tomorrow and next year. Sound weird? It is. The Owens are a great bunch of talkers, but oftentimes lack planning and execution. I’m going to try to remediate that so we have an actual plan and a destination for not just tomorrow, but next year’s trip as well.
So come back next week for a tasty fall treat.
Today though, I’m sharing a quick-on-my-feet concoction I threw together last week when we had the Voss family over. Before we got to that incredible Pumpkin Crème Brûlée I shared yesterday, I asked the birthday girl what she felt like drinking. She picked Vodka as a base alcohol, but seemed a little stumped on what she wanted. I looked over at my fruit and vegetable stand that sits on the kitchen counter, and the wheels started spinning.
“Do you like grapefruit?” I asked.
“I love grapefruit!”
Whew. To be honest, I didn’t really have a special something whipped up and ready to go, but I knew that I could make some magic with the tart, refreshing fruit. I ran downstairs to the bar and poured some of that fabulous gum syrup I can’t stop talking about into a glass, along with some Prairie Organic Vodka.
I brought it back upstairs, squeezed half a grapefruit over it, strained it into a clean glass (I’m not a fan of pulp in my apéritifs. I like the liquid clear), added ice and topped it off with club soda.
The result? She loved it. So much so that she texted me for the recipe, called Binny’s to see if they had gum syrup, and texted me back to tell me that they special ordered it for her. So if any of you Chicagoland folks are intrigued, ask Binny’s to order Small Hand Foods gum syrup. You’ll love it, and it’ll transform your cocktails. I promise.
But hey – I’m here not just to explore slightly obscure cocktail ingredients. I also want to ensure the masses can enjoy these recipes, so if you have honey and hot water, you can still make this drink. Just combine equal parts of the two (I usually do 2-4 tablespoons each) and give it a shake. It’ll keep for a few weeks in your refrigerator.
I wax poetic about trying to eat a minimal amount of sugar. It’s something that truly improved the health of everyone in my family, so it seems contradictory that I’d use sugar syrups in cocktails. But when you control the amount of sugar that goes into your beverages and you use high quality ingredients, you still consume less than if you used a flavored vodka, high-sugared mixers, or any kind of flavored sodas in your cocktails. Simple syrups are not only used to sweeten cocktails – they also take the “bite” off of the liquor, add viscosity to your drinks, and enhance the other flavors. In this case, the syrup takes the sharp alcohol flavor off the Vodka (since there’s a significant amount in this drink), mellows the tartness of the grapefruit, and brings all of the ingredients together in harmony.
Crisp, refreshing, sparkly, and fresh. That’s how I describe the Grapefruit Vodka Spritzer. And according to the speed with which my friend downed her first, they go down easily, so sip that second and third apéritif with care.
Happy Friday! Shopping tales forthcoming…
- 3 oz good vodka. I like Prairie Organic for this cocktail
- juice of ½ grapefruit
- ½ to ¾ oz gum syrup or honey simple syrup* (start with ½ ounce; if you feel like it needs more, then add another ¼ oz)
- club soda
- Pour the first three ingredients into a glass or shaker and stir or shake to combine.
- Pour over a strainer into a glass filled with ice.
- Add club soda to top.
- *To make honey simple syrup, combine equal parts honey and hot water. Shake to combine, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.