I’m a fan of boozy fruit in the summertime. I have fond memories of sitting in the back yard with my fam, drinking homemade sangria from plastic tiki cups full of the freshest fruit available. Sometimes the fruit even came from the bounty my dad would bring back from the farmers at the market, gifts for keeping them entertained with a little blues every Saturday. Sangria reminds me of the “Party in my Tummy” song from Yo Gabba Gabba (yes, I took it there)…can mangos come to the party in the sangria? Can apples come to the party in the sangria? Yes and yes! Most every fresh fruit can have a place in the sangria pitcher.
I love this version in that it’s a slight departure from the usual red wine concoction. Sangria is incredibly EEO with wine color – red, white, champagne and even port can become lovely versions of this Spanish sipper. For a tropical touch, I combine rose sparkling wine (Spanish cava Cristalino, to keep things authentic) with mango, raspberries, pears and citrus. Brandy becomes a soaking tub for the fruit before it’s blended up with the cava and sprite into bubbly awesomeness. Dandy as candy. Or should I quote Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka with “candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” Or maybe no more childhood references in a post about booze.
Sparkling Rosé Sangria
1/2 c. of brandy (preferably not cheap crap)
1 pear, cored and diced
1 mango, pitted and diced
1 orange, diced peel and all
1 lime, diced peel and all
1 pint of raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 bottle of sprite
1 bottle of rosé cava (or other sparkling rosé)
Mix diced pear, mango, orange, lime and raspberries with the brandy in a small bowl. Refrigerate for a half an hour.
Fill a gallon pitcher with a few cups of ice. Scoop out the fruit and add to the pitcher. Pour in the cava and top with sprite. Serve immediately.
Crazy, Sexy, Cool
This one goes out to my best friend Kate, my partner in crime for the majority of my favorite shenanigans of all time. That’s right, of all time. Kate and I have been friends since well before I was legally allowed to and/or had the money to pay for the margarita below. And yet, when I think about the sheer giggle fits we’ve shared in this rag tag life, I’m amazed at how few were dependent upon tequila or discretionary funds. Continue reading Hibiscus Chile Margarita
All the Fun Without Spittin’ Seeds
Summer in NYC is marked by the presence of the hallowed italian ice trucks (or up in Spanish Harlem and the Bronx, the Coco Helado cart). Lemon, cherry, watermelon and the ever descriptive “rainbow” flavor are doled out into paper cups that are then eaten without a spoon – it’s a one-handed treat that is meant to be enjoyed on the run. The ices are a revelation, especially in the oppressively warm summer temps in the concrete jungle. How could you not be a fan?
This sorbet is an absolute delight that celebrates the joy of the season – fresh watermelon. The sticky pulp is heightened by zesty limes, with just a bit of grenadine and cherry to enhance its bright pink color. As much as I’d love to simply tuck into a little paper cup of this stuff, I usually make it by the quart and for some crazy reason, it disappears just like that! Who woulda thunk it? Continue reading Watermelon Sorbet
Practice makes perfect, kids. And lemme tell you, the difference between my first attempt at creating a recipe for a Ginger Hibiscus Martini is absolutely the best example of this. Because, and I am not employing any hyperbole whatsover, it was out and out nasty. Too bitter, too spicy and too strong – it just didn’t work.
Mama didn’t raise no quitter, and back to the drawing board I went. This time around, rather than steeping hibiscus in hot water, I infused a simple syrup with the rosy petals and rounds of ginger, creating a gorgeous, ruby-colored sweetener for the martini. Tessa said tasting it made her feel like a hummingbird – I took this as a compliment 😉
This martini is exotic, lovely and can be made stronger or weaker depending on your mood. If you’re back on the wagon, you can mix this syrup with orange juice and sprite for a refreshing cocktail minus the potent potables. And you SNL fans, feel free to insert your favorite Alec Trebek insult in your best Sean Connery voice. “I’ll take the rapists for 500, Alex.”
Ginger Hibiscus Martini
1 part ginger hibiscus simple syrup (see recipe below)
1 part cranberry juice
2 parts vodka
Fill a martini shaker with ice. Combine 1/3 c. of syrup, 1/3 c. of cranberry, and 2/3 c. of vodka. Squeeze in half a lime. Shake and strain into martini glasses. Garnish with lime rounds.
Ginger Hibiscus Simple Syrup
1 c. of water
1 c. of sugar
3 in. of fresh ginger, sliced in 1/4 in. rounds
1/4 c. of hibiscus flowers
Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off and strain into a tupperware. Pop in the fridge to chill before using.
This dressing is a variation of one of my favorite go-to dressings, a light citrus combo that is sweetened with a bit of sugar and honey. I use it on my Thai Chopped Salad with Crisp Noodles and Herbs, but if you leave out the peanut sauce, you can use it as the basis for a Mandarin Orange Salad or even as a marinade for meat or vegetables. The recipe calls for peanut sauce, but if you don’t have any around, substitute a tablespoon of smooth peanut butter. If you are vegan and looking to use peanut sauce, try to find one without fish sauce. Or just use the aforementioned peanut butter trick. Word. Continue reading Sweet Peanut Lime Dressing
Steep Me in Majesty
I first had a taste of Rosemary Hibiscus Tea at the Fairmont Princess in Acapulco – I had a regrettable manicure at the spa, and an unforgettable cup of their “secret brew” before leaving the space. A combo of rosemary leaves and hibiscus petals, this sweet red treat was tart and garnet-colored like cranberry juice, only a little milder and much more floral. You can learn all about the flowers and their medicinal properties on Wikipedia.
Apparently, in Jamaica (where the flowers are called sorrel, and oddly, are called “Jamaica” in Latin America) the drink is spiked with a bit of rum as well. This recipe is the non-party version, but impress your bourgeois crew and serve this cooled beverage in a martini glass with a shot of Bacardi and a splash of Grand Marnier. It’ll make you spit your cosmo out the window and drink these from now on instead. Continue reading Rosemary Hibiscus Iced Tea