Italian greyhound with rosemary sugar

Gin and Grapefruit with Rosemary

It’s pretty close to a new season, when there’s not much better than lingering with a cocktail at the end of the day, celebrating the return of warm sun and longer days.

It also means that dinner gets cooked and eaten later than usual, but that’s all part of getting into summer mode. I stock up on chilled rosé for summer drinking, but every once in a while I like to start the night (or afternoon. Ahem) off with something a little lighter in alcohol.

A few weeks ago, Molly of Orangette wrote about a pretty salmon-colored drink she liked that included the liqueur Aperol, a brand of Italian bitters very much like Campari.

That drink, a Pamplemousse, is mixed with fresh grapefruit juice and white wine. But it reminded me how refreshing grapefruit juice can be in a cocktail, especially with gin in a warm weather drink, blended into Salty Dogs or Greyhounds.

After a short search around my local liquor stores, I rounded up a bottle of Aperol. As much as I love a simple Campari and soda with lime, Aperol might be even better to my taste. It’s not quite as bitter and has a tiny bit more sweetness and more complex hints of herbal-citrus flavors.

Rosemary Sugar

I made my Italian Greyhound and embellished it a little by rimming the glass with rosemary sugar – easily made in a mini food processor or spice grinder: 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary and 1/4 cup sugar.

Italian Greyhound Cocktail with Rosemary Sugar

I love, love, love this drink! It makes me appreciate gin – a spirit I don’t usually drink- all those herbs, roots and botanicals get along so nicely together and it’s dangerously thirst-quenching.

Italian Greyhound with Rosemary Sugar

Yield: makes one drink


    Rosemary Sugar
  1. 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 -2 ounces gin (depending on the time of day)
  4. 4 ounces freshly squeezed pink or red grapefruit juice
  5. Splash Aperol


  1. Combine the rosemary and sugar.
  2. Rub the edge of a glass on a wedge of fresh citrus - grapefruit would be perfect. Put some of the rosemary sugar on a plate and rim the glass.
  3. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add the gin and juice, and top with a splash or two of Aperol.
  4. Swirl or stir gently - enjoy.

Pink Grapefruit Saketini


Somewhere around 6 pm on a summer day – or any day –  is when I get thirsty for a cold grown-up drink- I usually stick to chilled rosè or light refreshing whites like pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, and my recent favorite, gruner veltliner, to sip while I cook dinner. It’s a relaxing ritual, and I find myself looking forward to it daily – sometimes a little too much if you know what I mean  (and I think you do!).

I’ve been known to sling cold summer cocktails every now and again, though, and the other night I decided to experiment with sake.

I like the idea of using sake in place of a hard liquor like vodka or gin – I’d rather drink a cocktail without feeling the toxic effects of high-proof alcohol, which is sometimes too much for me.  Sake can contain a little more alcohol than wine; about 15% or more by volume, but that’s still less than distilled liquor.

Sake also has a lightly sweet, delicate nature that plays nicely with things you might want to mix it with, like fruit juices, liqueurs and fresh herbal infusions.

I wouldn’t use an expensive, premium sake to make a cocktail, since you’ll be missing its finer qualities, not to mention that the sake purists out there would cringe – just use what you can find for less than $20 a bottle.


Rosemary Lemon-Ginger Vodka Spritzers

A beachside refresher

Our vacation got off to a tremulous start – what with the 5.2 earthquake and all – but we managed to get everyone safely in the car and on the road to Rosemary Beach, our almost impossibly lovely destination on the Florida Panhandle.

This place is one of those scarily-proportioned planned “towns” that seem to spring up out of the swamp land as if by magic. What I mean by scary is just the absolute perfectness about it all; it’s so self-contained and pristinely designed that it just doesn’t seem real.

And, in keeping with the Mediterranean theme of the architecture, there are rosemary bushes springing up everywhere. I don’t think that rosemary would grow here as a native plant, but it does seem to thrive in this climate, because the plants seem to grow into large hedgerows.

Rosemary might just be my favorite herb and every spring I put out numerous small plants in my garden. I always hope that one or two of them will make it through the winter, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Seeing them casually growing here to the size of happy Great Danes kind of overwhelms me. I’m starting to feel like cooking something. Or maybe I’m just thirsty.

We came up with this refreshing cocktail recipe while lounging on the beach yesterday. It’s pretty good. Might be just about time for another!

Rosemary Lemon-Ginger Vodka Spritzers

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup peeled, chopped fresh ginger
2 large springs rosemary, plus more to garnish
Pinch of fine sea salt (seems weird, but it really makes the syrup pop with flavor)
Fresh lemons, halved
Ice cold vodka
Chilled sparkling water

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the ginger, rosemary and salt; remove from the heat and let steep for about 10 minutes. Strain the syrup and chill.

To make a drink, squeeze fresh lemon juice to taste into a glass filled with ice. Pour in 2 ounces vodka and about 1 tablespoon syrup. Top off with the sparkling water. Take a sip, and add more syrup if you like. Add a rosemary spring for garnish. Cheers!

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