Pink Drinks Too- More Summer Sunset Cocktails

I’ve become obsessed with the blushy pink drink! Look how pretty they are, how can you resist?

For this batch, they are a bit less girly. Not nearly as sweet. The first is a drink is one that I concocted years ago when I worked for Georgine Cavaiola at her beautiful restaurant, Georgine Carmella. I worked there in the late 80’s, before the nouvelle cuisine phase, and when fine dining meant La Cote Basque. Georgine’s food was pure, fresh and elegant- made with so much care and love. It was the kind of food that made Tom Colicchio famous 2 decades later- it was well ahead of it’s time.

Located in Little Italy, nestled in between ancient red checker clothed spaghetti restaurants, was this little storefront gem. It was a narrow place with penny tile floors and a tin ceiling. Each night the limos would roll up and the rich and famous who appreciated amazing food and their privacy, would slip into this tiny intimate restaurant and have their senses indulged to perfection.

Georgine was by far the toughest boss that I have ever worked for, and I loved her for it. I had previously working in some very fine restaurants, but Georgine not only insisted on good service and excellent food- she insisted on the dining experience and aesthetic. She was the only restauranteur that I’ve ever known that insisted that the staff take their evening meal in the dining room with linens and silver. She made sure that we hustled through our mis en place so that we had plenty of time to sit and eat leisurely. We were given dishes off the menu so that we could experience them and discuss them with knowledge. Georgine’s feeling was that in order to understand and provide a good dining experience, the staff needed to start the evening from the same place. Beauty and grace begets beauty and grace. It was brilliant!

Years later I employed the same in my cake business. I would make a hot staff meal for my team- 8 or so in those days. We would collectively sit at a big long table and eat a healthy hot meal, that I had prepared. It gave us time to relax together, and share. When finished, all would clean up together, and then get back to work. That created a warm and familial environment, which I think lead to my team producing some beautiful work. We all worked so hard in those days- and we worked happy.

Georgine had us taste different wines and champagnes, and she also turned me on to one of my greatest delights: Amaro, or bitters. Amaro is taken as a digestif after a meal, but could also be taken at the beginning of a meal as an aperitif. They are made up of different roots and spices and though based in a sweet syrup, they are bitter to the taste. Camapari is the most famous, Cynar is another, but there are so many- all with their own flavor profile.

I fell in love with Amaro and really enjoy the bitter, earthy taste- to a point. This drink I created, which I call “A Bitter Kiss”, uses aromatic gin as the base, some lemon soda as the sweetness and a touch of Campari to give it a refreshing edge. I love it in the summer as an alternative to gin and tonic. I’ve made them for people over the years, and even those leery of Campari have come to like it.

The second cocktail is a Black Pepper Cherry Lime Ricky Martini. I made a syrup from fresh deep red cherries and black peppercorns. There is just a hint of pepper, just enough to give it a bit and some depth and take the sweet edge off. These babies really do down too easily due to the limey citrus flavor, so be warned.
The syrup is a breeze to make and a fantastic hostess gift- or just keep a bottle in the back of your fridge for when you feel a little above the hoi polloi and desire a cocktail for yourself.
Lastly, I present to you a beautiful glass of rose. Oh poor rose, the bastard child of the wine world. Much aligned for it’s misunderstood parentage, and so often unappreciated. This has got to stop immediately. I invite you to bring along a bottle or two of rose to the next summer cook out. Take a moment to ask your local wine shopkeeper for some guidance- you will be amazed at how much more interesting a rose can be than your old fall back of Pinot Grigio. The prices are often much less than they should be for the quality of the wine. I’ve had some rose’s recently that have enough fruit and spice to pair well with a burger off the grill. I invite you to give it a try- you will not be disappointed.
A Bitter Kiss
makes one
3T gin
1T Campari- or to taste
3oz lemon/lime soda
Slice of lime
Serve over ice
Black pepper cherry syrup
makes about a cup
1# of fresh bing cherries, crushed
2C white sugar
6 whole black peppercorns
combine the three ingredients in a neutral bowl and allow to sit overnight on the counter, covered.
Strain the solids from the syrup and discard. 
Place syrup in a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Black Pepper Cherry Lime Ricky
makes one
In a cocktail shaker over ice, combine:
4T vodka
2T fresh lime juice
2T bar sugar- or superfine sugar
Shake this and strain into a martini glass
carefully add 1T of cherry syrup, or to taste

{Day 7} Good Cheer: The Gift of Fine Drinking

Cocktails on the ready! If you’ve been following along you would have heard me refer to a few drinks a comin’ and now here they are. The beauty of these is that the two above are made from the residual syrups made from previous gifts. Ginger Lime Syrup from the Candied Ginger and Cowboy Cocktail is made from the syrup of the Cowboy Candy.
What I’ve done here is take those leftovers and added a thing or two and some booze and made the base of two delicious cocktails. Now all your loved one has to do is add some ice, some lime and a splash of soda or tonic, and they are good to go.
When I first made Cowboy Candy I was left with a pretty fair amount of syrup, perhaps about a quart. It was in the early Fall and it just called out tequila and lime to me. The syrup has not only a heat kick that is fierce, but the vinegary sweetness adds a tremendous balance to the tequila and lime. I’ve been reading a lot lately how bartenders are now finding balsamic vinegar into their cocktails and I now understand why. I invite you to try this just for the experience.
The Ginger Lime Syrup also has a pretty dynamic kick to it too. As a fan of Dark and Stormy’s this is a fantastic syrup to use for that. There is enough sweetness in it to avoid the ginger beer and just add rum and club soda. But I also like Gin and Ginger Tonic, which I did here.
Just be sure to label your concoctions and provide a recipe for the proper ratios.
I just think giving someone ready made cocktails for two can be a real treat for the right person. Especially when you’ve already done most of the work for them.
I also created a Chamomile Cordial, which I paired with biscotti. This came out of my love of Chamomile Grappa which I had the good fortune to have at the end of an outstanding meal at Babbo, Mario Batali’s Restaurant here in NYC. Chamomile is long known for is digestive properties but pairing it with grappa is unusual. The only company that makes it is in Italy and it’s not easy to come by here. The  chamomile grappa has a soft mellowness, a slight sweetness to it and the gorgeous aroma of the flowers. I’ve served this to querying guests after a dinner party and so far everyone has been an immediate fan.
Though since not everyone is a grappa fan, as it’s next of kin is rocket fuel. Grappa is made from the remaining “mash”, or skins and seeds, after grapes have been pressed for wine. It’s distilled and fermented and this clear alcohol can be intense in that “oh my goodness this is burning my throat” sort of way. So for those less into rough drink, I created mine with vodka, which turned down the volume a few decibels while still offering a swift kick.
Personally I love to sip it after a big meal or an especially long hard day. I suppose you could make a cocktail of it, but I’m not thinking that way. If you come up with something, please let me know- I’d be curious to see what creations could be made of this.
Gin and Ginger Tonic
If you’ve made the candied ginger and reserved the syrup than bravo! but if you haven’t, or need a fresh batch here’s how to start.
Take 2c of peeled and sliced fresh ginger and put into a heavy saucepan with 2c of water and 2c of white sugar. 
Bring to boil on the stove and then simmer for 30 mins. You can then remove the
 ginger and dry it and candy it {recipe here} or not.
While the syrup is still warm, add zest slices from 3 limes and allow to steep in the syrup until cool.
To make the cocktail base, combine 1 part syrup with 3 parts gin.
To make the finished cocktail the ratio is 1 part base to 1 part tonic (or to taste) and add lime. I recommend adding a tag with the recipe and explanation of your lovely elixer.
Cowboy Cocktail
Now if you’ve made the Cowboy Candy (and if not, seriously, you should) and you saved the juice, you’re good to go, or…..
slice .5# of jalepeno peppers
.33c white vinegar
1c white sugar
.25t ground cayenne
Combine in a heavy sauce pan and allow to simmer for about 10 mins. Reserve some peppers for garnish and discard the rest. Allow the syrup to cool. The full Cowboy Candy recipe is here.
Combine 1 part Cowboy Syrup to 2 parts tequila for the base
For the finished cocktail combine 1 part base with 1 part lime juice and a splash of soda water.
Don’t forget that tag with instructions- they’ll need it
Chamomile Cordial
this cordial is not overly sweet and really lovely after a big meal
8 chamomile tea bags or 1c loose flowers
4c water
4c sugar
vodka or a clear brandy for more kick or heck, go for grappa
In a large saucepan heat the water to boiling and let tea steep until cool. This makes a strong intense tea.
Remove tea bags or strain flowers and add sugar. Bring to boil and simmer 5 mins
Remove from heat and allow syrup to cool.
To make cordial combine 1 part chamomile syrup to 5 parts alcohol, or to taste. It should not by syrupy sweet, just a soft sweetness so you can feel the kick of the alcohol.