Move over, tequila. This citrusy Paloma is made into something complex and new with the addition of smoky, earthy mezcal. Easy to make (and uh, easier to drink), this cocktail is made brighter with the addition of effervescent grapefruit soda. Don’t nix the soda: it rounds out the drink perfectly.
1/4 cup sea salt
1 teaspoon ground chile de arbol
Small grapefruit wedge (for glass)
2 ounces mezcal
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
6 ounces grapefruit soda
Grapefruit twist, for garnish
1. Mix salt and chile in a small bowl and spread out on a small plate. Rub the rim of a glass with grapefruit wedge, then dip into salt mixture to evenly coat rim. Fill glass with ice and pour in mezcal, grapefruit juice, then soda. Garnish with grapefruit twist.
I grew up in Santa Rosa, ground zero for California’s 2017 historic fire season that wiped out so much of the city, county, and region last year. The neighborhood I grew up in was one of the worst hit. Months later, neighbors are coming back and there is no sound sweeter than that of rebuilding. Shout out to a resilient community.
By chance, I’d visited Santa Rosa the day before the fires, and my parents had sent me home with a huge haul of produce from their garden, as they always do. Apples, blood oranges, Asian pears, pomegranates, figs, Meyer lemons, persimmons, muscat grapes, Persian mulberries, Persian cucumbers, San Marzano tomatoes, sun gold tomatoes, Santa Rosa plums — I could go on and on. I’ve been very lucky to be eating farm to table well before the phrase ever entered the popular vernacular.
With the fire went the beautiful garden that my parents had lovingly built over the decades, and in the haze of the days that followed, I found myself with a bag of fruit that I didn’t want to eat. If I ate the fruit, the last vestiges of the garden I grew up in would vanish forever. But if I didn’t eat the fruit, it would, of course, go bad.
So I infused the fruit in bourbon. A year later, I realize that sounds strange, but in the moment, it felt like the right thing do to. And you know what? That infused bourbon made the best old fashioned I’ve ever had. It was bittersweet, but in a sense, it allowed the fruit to be frozen in time.
The apple and lemon and pear trees may be gone forever, but they can be replanted. They’ll grow and thrive again. And until they do, I have this recipe to remind me that there is joy to be found in all places, no matter the circumstance.
Ingredients for the infused bourbon:
Peel from 1 whole grapefruit
Peels from 2 Meyer lemons
2 pear cores
2 apple cores
One 750-ml bottle bourbon
Ingredients for 1 old fashioned:
1/2 teaspoon sugar
5 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 ounces infused bourbon
1/2 ounce water
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Make the infused bourbon: Combine all of the ingredients in a jar; cover. Let stand at room temperature for 10 to 12 hours. Strain the bourbon through a cheesecloth-lined fine sieve.
2. Make the old fashioned: In a rocks glass, muddle the sugar with the bitters. Fill the glass with ice and stir in the infused bourbon and water. Garnish the drink with an orange twist.
Rose season is upon us, friends. Rose all day, rose-yay, etcetera, etcetera. I’ve got to be honest, though. I like summer’s official beverage as much as the next person, but I don’t like all rose. A lot of it is too sweet for my taste, too white wine-y, too, well, too rose-all-day-ish, if you know what I mean.
But not this rose. This rose is (a) in sangria form, which is always a good thing, (b) includes rum and Campari, and (c) has too-pretty-to-eat-except-they’re-melting ice cubes that impart a subtly berry flavor to the whole thing.
So yeah. Rose season is upon us. Bring it on, I say.
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blackberries
Two (750-ml) bottles rosé
1 cup light rum
3/4 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup Campari
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1. Layer the berries in two ice cube trays. Gradually add just enough distilled water to cover. Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight, until solid.
2. In a pitcher, stir the wine with the rum, simple syrup, Campari and lemon juice. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
3. Serve sangria in individual glasses with two or three berry ice cubes each.
I know what you’re thinking. Manhattans? Too easy. But I beg to differ. I’ve had many a sad Manhattan: too bitter, too sweet, too weak. It’s easy to go wrong. I’m taking it back to basics. Artisanal vermouths are all the rage right now, but you know what? I actually prefer Martini brand vermouth in my Manhattans. It’s smooth and it’s balanced. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
1 cup bourbon, preferably Bulleit
2/3 cup red vermouth, preferably Martini Rosso
4 dashes Angostura bitters
4 thin slices orange
4 maraschino cherries
1. Combine bourbon, vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass.
2. Divide cocktail among 4 ice-filled rocks glasses. Garnish each drink with an orange slice and cherry.
I think of shrubs as the cousin of sharab. It turns out there’s a reason why: today’s shrubs (vinegared syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water) are a variant of sharab, which means “syrup” or “wine” in Persian, Hindi, and Arabic. Shrubs may be the base for the trendy cocktail of the moment, but its history is ancient.
Etymology aside, this peach and bourbon shrub is my favorite version to make. Peaches go with bourbon like waffles go with fried chicken, like palm trees with California, like Kamran with Hooman. You get the point.
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 pounds peaches
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 ounces bourbon
2 ounces lemon juice
1. Bring sugar and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Slice peaches into medium pieces. Reserve a few pieces for serving and add remaining to pan. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 30 minutes. Strain syrup into a bowl; stir in vinegar. Cover and chill shrub.
2. Set out 4 ice-filled cocktail glasses. For each cocktail, shake 2 ounces shrub, 1 1/2 ounces bourbon, and half an ounce of lemon juice in an ice-filled cocktail shaker until frosty. Strain into glasses and top with reserved peaches.