I recently restocked my syrups shelf in the fridge so I have found myself enjoying a variety of drinks. Blackberry Jalapeno Smash is one of the mocktails I have found myself making during the COVID isolation. There is not much I can do to defuse my anxiety. One trick that seems to work for me is to focus on cooking.
Eating well and drinking well has become an important part of my daily routine. On most days, it is a welcome distraction for me to focus on building memorable flavors on my plate or in my cup. Since I don’t imbibe alcohol, I have to be creative when it comes to crafting drinks. I am not a fan of mocktails that don’t have a depth of flavor. A drink, alcoholic or not, should not be a mere vessel for sugar into the bloodstream.
One thing I love about this drink is the range it has. The jalapeno syrup in this drink is layered with the pungent herbiness of the celery seeds and heat from the jalapeno. This adds a good balance to the fruitiness of the blackberry. The basil rounds out the delight without being overpowering.
If you are someone that likes your drinks smooth, it is possible to strain this before serving it. However, I find that layering the ice of the blackberry on the bottom provides a lovely filtration system. Of course, I just love how pretty the color transition looks in the glass.
I love a good 3-day weekend when everything slows down and people are relaxed. Labor day is different for me this year because it will also mark the beginning of a rather important school year. Get your glass of Peach Lavender Cordial ready. Let me tell you a story.
Believe it or not, this strawberry and rhubarb cordial almost never happened. The stories about rhubarb seem to come from nowhere. Like it does every year, one moment it is the end of winter and the moment, rhubarb was everywhere. As always, I seem to never grab it when I saw it until I didn’t see any rhubarb anymore. Then one day, just like that, I saw some rhubarb at the grocery store and remembered to but it.
Have you have discovered a fruit and then become obsessed with? That’s the story of my relationship with citron, aka Buddha’s hand. I had never seen it and suddenly it was everywhere last winter. One of the fascinating thing about citron is that it can be consumed like an orange because it has no juice. It is basically all zest and rind. Its limitation made it perfect for this Pineapple Citron syrup.
Citron has a zesty smell with floral overtones. It is the floral notes in its oil that I find most intoxicating when I cook with this lovely fruit. When I was thinking of how to balance the syrup, I decided to pair it with lemongrass. Lemongrass, as the name implies, has some of the same notes as lemon with grassiness. Smell is an important part of the experience of drinking. When I build my syrups, I am very conscious of the fact that there is a lot of sugar and sometimes limited palette for taste. By thinking about the nose, I can further enhance the experience of drinking.
The Pineapple Citron syrup is focused heavily on smell, but it also tastes smashingly good. I have always loved the way pineapple feels in the mouth. Chilling down that pineapple taste and then carbonating it makes a massive difference. That’s why for mixing the syrup, I chose crisp sparkling water.
One tip for making this syrup: The Pineapple Citron Syrup taste best when the pineapple is just about to rot. The whole and uncut pineapple is ready when you can smell it in the room and it starts to attract flies. Really! I usually buy a ripe pineapple from the store and just let it hangout in my house for a couple of weeks.
Cut off the crown of the pineapple. Wash the skin of the pineapple thoroughly then chop the pineapple into chunks. Cut the citron into pieces as well. Smash the lemongrass open with a rolling pin or dull edge of a knife.
Arrange the pineapple, citron, and lemongrass in a medium pot. Pour the sugar over the mix and add in 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it boils, reduce heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat.
Let the syrup cool down in the pot for about 30 minutes. Strain out the syrup. Don’t be afraid to press down on the pulp in the pot to get the juices flowing out.
To get that super clear syrup, I strain a second time through two layers of coffee filter.
The St.Clements drink is a classic mocktail. Since I am that person that just can’t let things be, I decided to play around with the recipe for the St.Clements. A classic version of the St. Clements features orange juice and bitter lemon. It actually sounds really yummy.
I decided to play on the name of St.Clements drink by using clementine juice. It is the middle of winter and there is an abundance of citrus around. One of the reasons why I wanted something other than orange juice is because I find it a bit much. Clementine juice is much softer and has a floral note when compared to an orange.
For the lemonade or bitter lemon aspect of this St. Clements drink, I made my own syrup. It pretty much follows the formula for the Grapefruit Thyme syrup I shared before. Except, I am using a mix of lemon and lime in this recipe.
The other adjustment to the classic recipe is using a mix of ginger beer and sparkling water to finish up the drink. The ginger adds a bit of heat to the drink to compliment the hint of florals from the clementine and the bitterness of the lemon-lime syrup.
I have a feeling this St.Clements is about to be a drink I reach for constantly. It is such a ready palette to play to with other flavors like basil or even a bit of thyme. I also imagine that infusing some jalapeno into the lemon-lime syrup would make for a memorable drink.
Let me know if you try this recipe. Follow me on Instagram and use the hashtag #willeatthis.
3ozClementine juiceI found that this is the juice of 1.5 clementine
In a drink shaker, add in ice, clementine juice, lemon-lime syrup. Shake.
Strain the clementine juice mix into a tall glass. Add in the ginger beer. Top it off with sparkling water to taste.
The lemon-lime syrup in this recipe refers to my recipe for Grapefruit Thyme syrup. Also, I only added a few ounces of ginger beer because I wanted slight heat. If you prefer, you can top the drink up completely with ginger beer. You can also entirely skip the ginger beer and just use sparkling water. This drink is versatile.
Let’s redefine the meaning of a G and T! It shall henceforth be known as Grapefruit and Tonic.
The other day I was shopping and I found that the Fevertree Indian Tonic water was on sale. Thinking about the tonic water took me back to my childhood in Nigeria. Back in those days, when you go buy a crate of soda ,the seller would want to mix the variety of the 24 bottles. It would be split between the ever popular cola drinks, then the orange soda as well as lemon and lime ones. The most unpopular flavor was always tonic water.
Every party we held, the tonic water was always the last one to be consumed. A lot of people just could not stand the taste since it was just sugar laden like the other soda options. Eventually, someone desperate for a drink would grab the tonic water. The memory of the interesting flavor of the tonic water compelled me to buy a bottle of the Fevertree Indian Tonic. I figured I would eventually figure out how to use it. It was only while I was mixing myself a drink with the Grapefruit and Thyme Syrup that I realized that I should try the tonic.
Oh my goodness! It was so delicious; I knew I had to write down the recipe. So here is my non-alcoholic version of the G and T! This Grapefruit and Tonic drink is beyond words. It is not too sweet. It has the bitterness from the syrup but the freshness of the grapefruit juice. Of course, the subtle tingle of the tonic water and the grapefruit oil elevates the bubbles in this drink. The Grapefruit and Tonic is a mocktail for the adult palette.
Please let me know if you try it! Don’t forget to use #willeatthis when you post a picture on Instagram.