Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Ringwald

A Tipsy Vixen creation

1 oz VeeV Açai Spirit
1 oz Broker's London Dry Gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Flora syrup
12 drops of Bittermens Burlesque bitters

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I was only 8 years old when Pretty In Pink was released, but I was already well familiar with Molly Ringwald; for whatever reason, my mother couldn't stand her and wasn't shy about discussing it, so naturally I thought she was the bee knees! To me, she seemed so grown-up, the epitome of cool and sophistication. There was something quirky and approachable about her that boys liked, and she was so very much the Average-Girl's girl; she wasn't the conventional beauty, but you wanted to be her, or at the very least be her friend. And then there's that oh-so-famous dress...

I started out this VeeV cocktail contest very much inspired by a Mojito variation served last summer at 676 Restaurant and Bar, called the Eco-Mojito. It was made with muddled mint and limes as you might expect, but with VeeV spirit instead of rum, topped with club soda and accompanied by cucumber. It was delicious. But the more I sniffed and sampled the VeeV, the more I was attracted to fruitier and more floral avenues. I played around a bit with some cognac and citrus, and came up with a rather tasty combination (I'll get into that one later this week,) but the favorite among some friends of mine was this little pink concoction.

If you remember from last week, I very quickly became obsessed with the floral angle, perhaps spurred on by the Mixology Monday challenge earlier this month: when I discovered the Bittermens Burlesque bitters contained both hibiscus and Açai, I was hell-bent. I ordered a bottle immediately from The Boston Shaker, and set to work making homemade syrups to experiment with. My favorite to make was the Flora syrup, which is essentially hibiscus with a little cinnamon and licorice for zing. I used Tea Forte Flora tea to make it, simply steeping 2 tea bags in 1 cup of boiling hot water. After removing the tea bags, I added 2 cups of white granulated sugar, and heated until sugar dissolved completely (perhaps it goes without saying, but let the syrup cool completely before you go dumping it into your mixing tin with ice, mmm'kay? Oh, and Captain Obvious also says to store it in the fridge.)

Ask just about any cocktail enthusiast, or bartender worth their salt, and they'll tell you that fresh squeezed citrus juice is essential in a drink. They aren't wrong! I suppose bottled juice is fine for everyday consumption (I keep it on hand at home for those moments when I don't have fresh lemons or limes, which is a lot, not going to lie) but it really, honestly, TRULY does make a difference to squeeze fresh lemon and lime juices for your cocktails. It's really quick if you get yourself one of those little hand-press types (kind of like a garlic press I guess,) and set aside a couple of small bottles to strain into and store them in.

I like to recycle and re-purpose the glass bottles from condiments like vinegars, chili oil, and grenadine because they're just the right size to store a few at a time in the fridge without hogging a ton of space, and they hold just enough juice/syrup to use for a few cocktails at a time. Less waste all around! But seriously, squeeze fresh for this; you won't regret it....

I enlisted my good friends Jennifer and Caroline to taste test with me (check out their respective blogs Thin Invisible Steel and Numinous Wilds) and they thought that the Ringwald tastes a bit like pink lemonade with lavender. I'd have to agree, and am really happy with the way that both the fruity and the floral flavors I was enjoying in the VeeV really come forward in the drink, but aren't too sweet or cloying. In fact; Caroline, who hates gin with a vehement passion, enjoyed the drink and was able to appreciate the floral and botanical notes of the gin in a way she hadn't been able to before.

Ultimately, I'm really pleased with the results of this adventure. I think that The Ringwald, while being a little bit of an oddball also manages to be approachable and delightfully sweet and snappy. A bit like it's namesake :)

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