challenge: MOCKTAILS.

i have two lovely women in my life who are expecting.  congratulations, ladies!  and probably a few others who might not be “drinkers”, so to speak.  i, myself, have cut way back on the sauce.

so i have been inspired lately to do a little mocktail test kitchen.

these are just ideas that, i hope, will spark your creativity.

i think the answer is to create an apothecary of infused simple syrups for your fridge.  make three or four separate batches of simple syrups, in three separate pots, and infuse with your favorite flavors.  store them in labeled mason jars, and you’ll have enough variety to keep you making drinks for a long time.

there’s also a thing called a “shrub” ~ a fermented vinegar and sugar mixture that gives you the taste of alcohol, kind of like kombucha.  kombucha is another way to fake out your taste buds, by the way.  and very healthy.

but that’s super fancy, and above my abilities at the moment.  i want this to be simple ~ ingredients you already have prepared and can throw together for a before-dinner drink, or a nightcap.

back to the test kitchen….

here’s how to make simple syrup:  combine 2 parts water with 1 part sugar.  bring it to a boil, and drop in the infusion of your choice.  turn off the heat and let steep on the stove until cooled.  strain and pour into mason jars…

you can vary the infusion flavors, and also vary the type of sugar you use:

basil (with agave nectar or sugar)

mint 

rosemary

orange peel 

lemon peel 

lime peel

cinnamon sticks (with brown sugar or honey), and add a splash of vanilla after cooled.

most of us already know how to make a martini or a mojito, and if you do, simply scroll down to the “COMBINATIONS” section.  if you don’t, here’s how…

MOJITOS:

IN A PRETTY GLASS (OR COCKTAIL SHAKER), MUDDLE FRUIT, SIMPLE SYRUP, AND YOUR CITRUS CUT INTO WEDGES.   MUDDLE WITH VIGOR AND DON’T STOP UNTIL ALL THE JUICE IS OUT!

ADD ICE AND TOP WITH LIQUIDS, LIKE SELTZER OR JUICE.  OR YOU CAN SHAKE (NOT THE SELTZER!) AND STRAIN INTO A MARTINI GLASS, IF YOU LIKE IT UP.

MARTINIS:

JUST LIKE A MOJITO, ONLY NO MUDDLING, SO YOU NEED TO SQUEEZE YOUR CITRUS INTO A COCKTAIL SHAKER…

got the idea??

okay, here we go!  have fun with this and tell me if you try anything that you love!  or hate!  i’m tough.  i can take it!

COMBINATIONS:

  1. STRAWBERRY-BASIL MOJITOS:  STRAWBERRIES + BASIL INFUSED SIMPLE SYRUP + ICE + FIZZY DRINK
  2. MANGO MARGARITAS:  (BLEND THE FIRST THREE INGREDIENTS, THEN ADD SELTZER) FRESH OR FROZEN MANGO, OR MANGO PUREE + FRESH LIME JUICE + FROZEN LIMEADE, UNDILUTED + SELTZER.
  3. CHERRY MINT MOJITOS:  FROZEN CHERRIES, THAWED + MINT SIMPLE SYRUP + LIME WEDGES + SELTZER
  4. MOSCOW MULE:  (USE THE MOJITO MUDDLING TECHNIQUE) PLAIN OR LIME SIMPLE SYRUP + LIME WEDGES + GINGER BEER (WHICH IS NON-ALCOHOLIC) + SELTZER.  THESE ARE SERVED IN COPPER MUGS, IF YOU WANT TO BE TRADITIONAL.
  5. CRANBERRY/ORANGE MARTINI:  ORANGE SIMPLE SYRUP + ORANGE WEDGES + CRANBERRY JUICE + OCEAN SPRAY SPARKLING CRANBERRY (THESE ARE SOOOO GOOD.  LOW CAL TOO!)
  6. WHITE CRANBERRY VERSION:  ORANGE SIMPLE SYRUP + ORANGE WEDGES + WHITE CRANBERRY JUICE + SELTZER
  7. LEMON DROP MARTINI:  LEMON SIMPLE SYRUP + LEMON WEDGES + SELTZER.  GARNISH WITH A LEMON DROP IN THE BOTTOM OF THE GLASS!
  8. ESPRESSO MARTINI:  CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP + DECAF ESPRESSO, COOLED + HALF AND HALF
  9. APPLE CINNAMON MARTINI:  CINNAMON AND BROWN SUGAR SIMPLE SYRUP + HONEY CRISP APPLE SLICES + APPLE CIDER OR JUICE + SELTZER.

you can also blend these drinks, of course.  but there’s nothing so decadent as sipping a pretty colored drink from a pretty little martini glass.

my mom is visiting me this weekend, and yesterday, i juiced 4 apples and a pear, shook it in a cocktail shaker with honey, cinnamon, and ice, and it was DIVINE.  so if you have a juicer, don’t forget to use it!

okay, i have to admit, i only had time to test a few of these.  but that’s my goal over the next few weeks.  i’ll post a “yippee!  success!”, or a “hmmm ~ not-so-much” each time i try something.  you do too!

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