Cocktails and Cookbook Research

5.22.10 § 4 Comments

This week, I struggled with balancing the duties of my semi-permanent, kind-of-full-time, real-person job and my new internship.  While it didn’t exactly go badly, it didn’t go great either. A full work week coupled with my desire to have a social life meant internship responsibilities got pushed back to the weekend.  As Friday afternoon drew to a close, I was fully prepared to lock myself in my apartment for most of the weekend, googling away about…well…about stuff.

Just before leaving work on Friday, I saw a tweet from Deb at Smitten Kitchen about something called “magic juice,” and I knew that it was just the treat I needed to accompany the copious amounts of cookbook research I’d be doing.  Especially since I wasn’t planning to spend time cooking, my usual weekend treat.

Usually, when I enjoy a drink at home, I keep it simple.  A glass of wine or a beer maybe, but never a cocktail.  It’s just too much work.  But I figured, heck, it’s summer and if I’m going to spend Friday night in my hot apartment, I might as well enjoy a refreshing, fruity beverage.

Let me tell you, this drink is delicious.  However, I have now discovered why I don’t make cocktails at home.  Number one, I don’t have the proper tools.  Number two, I’m a little bit of a spaz and when I try to improvise without the proper tools, things inevitably go wrong.

For this drink, diced strawberries, orange, and cucumber are “muddled” (also known as mushed) with mint leaves.  The dicing part went fine (as evidenced by the lovely photo above).  The muddling is where my brain started to feel like mush.  I put everything into a large glass measuring cup and then tried to find an appropriate tool to do the muddling.  I tried the bottom of a ladle first, but it was a little to big.  Next, I tried to use the ladle’s handle.  Too small.  (Just call me Goldilocks…)  Next, I decided to use the mallet thingy that one often uses to bang on chicken breasts to make them flatter.  I know, I’m wowing you with my grasp of appropriate culinary vocabulary.

To make a long story short, the mallet thingy worked great, until I tapped it on the edge of my glass measuring cup.  Really?  Smart move, me.  Thankfully, no glass got in the fruit.  Or if it did, it was evidently so small that it didn’t matter, since I drank this concoction and I’m fine.  (Well, I guess that’s arguable, but I feel fine.)

Once I got past the slight trauma of thinking I might have ruined my cocktail with small shards of glass, I went on with the next step of the recipe:  combining the mushed up fruit with gin and letting it sit for at least 15 minutes.  I let mine sit longer than this (in the refrigerator) because I really wanted it to be cold.  I only had four pieces of ice (see, obviously I am not used to making fancy drinks) so pre-chilling was required.

After the drink is chilled, you strain it into a glass with (your last four pieces of) ice and then you add lemonade.  Now, a bartender has one of those cool little strainers made for situations like this.  I don’t.  Consequently, I spilled quite a bit of liquid on the counter…because I did it with my regular strainer on top of a small glass.  In retrospect, I should have strained it into something with a wider opening and then transferred it to the glass, but for some reason, that didn’t occur to me until my counter was covered in sticky pink drink.

So what’s verdict?  This drink is awesome and refreshing, perfect for a hot summer night or for any night where you need a little reward to push yourself to do hours of research.  It’s really remarkably easy, if you know what you’re doing…I’m definitely going to make it again.  Well, after I get some bartender’s tools.  And I promise, if I ever make you a cocktail, I’ll practice beforehand so you don’t end up with shards of glass in your drink.

Magic Juice
from Design*Sponge
makes 2 drinks

6  strawberries, hulled and diced
1 orange, peeled and diced
¼ cucumber, peeled and diced
5-7 mint leaves
4-6 oz gin, depending on taste
8 oz lemonade

After dicing the fruits, combine them with the mint leaves and muddle.  Combine with 4 to 6 ounces of gin and let sit for at least 15 minutes.  Strain mixture over ice and lemonade.  Serve.

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§ 4 Responses to Cocktails and Cookbook Research

  • despite your mishaps in the mixing department, this looks fabulous. i don’t know you, but i wanna trust you and take a sip. but if i choke on shards of glass, i’m suing yo’ ass. just sayin’.

    but in all seriousness – i am quite the amateur when it comes to mixology too. i’m seriously considering taking a class, or a series of classes. seems like an important skill in life – especially to aid in extensive research. might make grad school easier for me. hmmmm.

    • tyla says:

      I do think it is important, but I think my plan is going to be to learn how to make one or two signature drinks and then the rest of the time, claim ignorance so someone else will handle the mixing 🙂

  • Gin says:

    Let’s make these and lay around in your mom’s backyard.

    It doesn’t even seem close to summer yet here, I’m longing for warm temps and drinks like this!

    • tyla says:

      God I wish! And as for summer, I’m not sure when it got here, but it did. What happened to summer break?

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