Another Mixology Monday is here and (hopefully) we got this in under the wire. This month’s theme is “Drink Your Vegetables” and is hosted by Rowen at the Fogged In Lounge (a very good cocktail blog, worth a visit). And thanks, as always, to Fred Yarm of Cocktail
Virgin Slut for keeping this whole shindig going. So here are the details of the theme:
Want to get more vegetables but you’re always eating on the run?… Well then, how about a vegetable cocktail? No, not that nice little glass of red stuff Grandma put at each place setting—we’re talking something with a kick in it. You can definitely start with the little glass of red stuff and expand it to a Red Snapper-style drink like a Bloody Mary. Or how about a cucumber-scented cooler like a Pimm’s Cup, or maybe a cocktail featuring a vegetable-based ingredient like Cardamaro or celery bitters? Maybe you’ve been wondering if you can get more mileage out of that juice extractor before consigning it to the garage sale. However you get them in that glass, be prepared for the most fun with vegetables ever.
So you would think that a “farm” blog would have this one in the bag, right? Not so, my friends, not so. We struggled mightily. It’s a good theme, and certainly we like our veggies, but somehow it took a bunch of time for us to formulate anything remotely original, interesting or blogworthy. And we aren’t big Bloody Mary fans, so no fallback there, either.
So what to do? Two things. Firstly, we chose to use fennel, one of our favorite ingredients (we may change the name of our blog to “Fennel Farms”). Secondly, we decided to use veggies to actually craft the base spirit and the cocktail. In this case we use veggies, fruits and spices to make “gin” and then formulate a cocktail.
And since gin often features the anise and citrus flavors we find in fennel and some gins (Hendrick’s) favor cucumber, we figured we could start with the traditional juniper and build a “gin” with veggies, herbs, citrus and spices. In the end, we used juniper berries, cinnamon (cassia), baby fennel (more citrus notes), fennel fronds, cucumber slices, rosemary, lime peel, lemon peel and Cara Cara orange peel. We muddled like crazy, then added some vodka (a good use for vodka, you could never predict how gin would respond to all these new flavors) and then muddled some more. And then it got interesting.
Right out of the shaker we got the cinnamon, cucumber and a touch of the rosemary. Good, but not like gin. So we let the mixture steep for 6 hours and the citrus and fennel stared to kick in, while the cinnamon faded. Better, but not there yet. 12 hours later we got more of the fennel, citrus and the sweetness of the cucumber. Basically, we ended up with a ligher (albeit cloudier) version of Hendrick’s. We can live with that. We had to live with that, time was running out.
Now that we had our “gin”, we made the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) cocktail. With all the flavors here, we didn’t add much. A little lime, a little agave syrup and a few dashes of Angostura. The CSA cocktail opens with cucumber and citrus nose followed by a sweet cucumber and agave sip. Then you get the lime and finish with the fennel, rosemary (we got more rosemary than juniper, we think) and cinnamon. Not bad, and it certainly would beg the question; “is this cucumber vodka or Hendrick’s?” And that will have to do. Rowen, you made us work on this one.
The CSA Cocktail:
- 6 juniper berries
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 or 3 rosemary needles
- Zest / peel of 1/2 lime
- Zest / peel of 1/4 lemon
- Zest / peel of 1/4 orange
- 1/4 cup baby fennel, roughly chopped
- 1 fennel frond
- 4 slices cucumber
- 6 oz. vodka
- 1/2 oz. lime juice
- 1/2 oz. agave syrup
- 4 dashed Angostura bitters
- 2 lemon twists for garnish
- Add the juniper berries, cinnamon stick and rosemary to a cocktail shaker. Muddle thoroughly. Add the citrus peels, chopped fennel, fennel frond and cucumber. Muddle some more. Then add the vodka. Muddle again.
- Pour the entire mixture into an airtight container and put in the fridge for at least 6, and preferably 12, hours.
- Place the entire mixture in a large cocktail shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, agave syrup and bitters. Shake until well chilled and double strain (at least once, maybe twice) into a chilled cocktail glasses, flutes or coupes. Garnish with the lemon twists and serve.
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