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

Ingredients

Rosemary Sugar

1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

1/4 cup sugar

1 -2 ounces gin (depending on the time of day)

4 ounces freshly squeezed pink or red grapefruit juice

Splash Aperol

Instructions

  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.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/italian-greyhound-with-rosemary-sugar/

Pink Grapefruit Saketini

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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.

Kanpai!