Wonderful news: Winter is over. Spring is upon us. It may still be a cold, snowy spring, but it’s spring nonetheless. There may be an odd arctic blast or two in the next few weeks, but we’re through the worst of it. We’re in that precious bit of time between the thaw and the emergence of an oppressive cloud of mosquitoes coated in pollen, and we should make the most of it.
This is an ideal opportunity to sit outside, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, and obsess with a friend over the sudden, terrible demise of one’s brackets. My cocktail suggestion for this activity is no fewer than seven beers.
Spring is not without its difficulties – bugs, chores, allergies – but such it is with every good thing in life. Generally speaking it is a happy time: of birds chirping, grass growing, nourishing rains, and squirrels chewing through your expensive gutter system to build a nest and whelp their hairless rat-pups. It’s time to plant; time to beautify the abode; time to put away the winter coat; and it’s a mighty fine time to drink, besides.
To celebrate the end of our winter’s hibernation, this week I am proposing a drink which makes use of a staple for any home bartender: sour mix.
Whenever practical you should avoid the use of store-bought mixes in favor of fresh ingredients. From a flavor and consistency perspective you will benefit enormously, and it’s easy to make your own sour mix at home. Here’s a quick rundown:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh lime juice
Simply heat the water and sugar as you would to prepare simple syrup. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and combine with the fruit juices. Give it a quick stir, then bottle and refrigerate. It will keep for a little less than two weeks, and will come in handy for quick, refreshing adult beverages of the sort we enjoy in warmer weather. Depending on how yours comes out, you may need to adjust the amount used in a cocktail in order to get the right amount of pucker.
On to the booze!
Good Luck Charm
I was searching for a cocktail that was a bit more suited to spring than a straightforward whiskey sour – a drink with a bit of subtlety around St. Patrick’s Day. (Subtlety, he says. For St. Patrick’s Day, he says)
Fortunately, I came across this recipe from Colleen Graham that incorporates the taste of real spearmint for a natural, refreshing take that satisfies both a sweet-tooth and a sourhead.
- 1 1/2 oz bourbon
- 3/4 oz limoncello
- 2 oz sour mix
- 6 leaves of spearmint
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, including the whole spearmint leaves. Shake vigorously to blend it. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. You’ll see shredded pieces of the mint floating on top, and that is A-OK. Garnish with a slice of lemon if you prefer.
As you taste the drink you’ll find these little bits of spearmint give it a freshness that smooths out the pucker and makes the beverage that much more interesting. Depending on the strength of your sour mix, you may have to adjust the measurements to find a balanced tartness. I chose not to do it, but you may coat the rim of the glass in sugar for added sweetness. One note for those who like whiskey: with the limoncello and the sour, I found that the bourbon was almost wholly subsumed. I couldn’t taste the alcohol, and this generally leads me to trouble. But you may prefer that sort of thing.
The easy-sipping nature of this one lends itself to a relaxed lawn party or a few unoccupied hours outside in the sun. It’s too dense to be a hot-weather drink, but it’s lighter and fresher than a cold-weather drink. It’s an in-between beverage, and as such well-suited to this in-between season.