Citrus Daiquiri

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Forget the adult slushie association. A true daiquiri is simple and balanced: a bit of rum, a dash of sugar, and a squeeze of lime. It should be bright, not sickly sweet. If you’re trying to figure out what to do with the last of the winter citrus, this daiquiri recipe is a creative riff on the classic, livened with the addition of mandarins. Feel free to substitute kumquats or tangerines.

Citrus daiquiri

Ingredients:

1/2 lime, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 mandarin, cut into half
2 ounces aged rum

1. Muddle lime and sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add mandarin and muddle until lightly crushed and juices are released. Fill cocktail shaker with ice, add rum, and shake vigorously until very cold, about 20 seconds. Pour into a glass and serve. Makes 1.

Strawberry-Mint Agua Fresca

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My favorite thing about this strawberry agua fresca (outside of it being immensely refreshing) is the Persianity factor. The Iranian vibes are strong with this one, my friend: a generous addition of not just mint but heady rosewater takes this agua fresca to the next level.

You’ll be sipping this all spring (and summer). Happy strawberry season.

Strawberry-mint agua fresca

1 pound strawberries, trimmed
1/3 cup mint leaves, plus sprigs for serving
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon rosewater
Club soda
Lime wheels, for serving (optional)

1. Puree strawberries, mint leaves, lime juice, agave nectar, rose water, and 2 cups water in a blender until smooth. Transfer puree to a container, cover, and chill until cold, about 1 hour.

2. Skim off any foam from surface and pour puree into four serving glasses filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with mint sprigs and lime wheels.

Apple Cider and Rum Cocktail

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Since last year, this batch cocktail has become my new go-to every winter holiday. Easy, refreshing, and not too sweet, it’s a hit with everyone. And even though the holidays are over, it’s still cold and bleary outside, so let’s be real: we need something to hold us over until the skies are sunny again.

Apple cider and rum punch

Ingredients:

1 cup dark rum
1 cup sweet vermouth
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup simple syrup
8 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 red apple, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
3 strips orange zest, thinly sliced
1 12-ounce bottle French hard cider

1. Combine rum, vermouth, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters in a pitcher. Add 1 1/2 cups ice and stir until ice has mostly melted and cocktail is cold. Stir in apple slices and orange zest; gently stir in cider.

2. Divide cocktail among ice-filled glasses and garnish with more apple slices.

Mezcal Paloma

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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.

Mezcal paloma

Ingredients:

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.

Apple and Pear Old Fashioned

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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.

Apple and Pear Old Fashioned

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
Ice
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.