may 17, 2018
And just like that, it’s summer. We may have a month to go by the calendar, but when the temperature climbs and air conditioners kick on ( with more than a little grumbling that it’s May, dangit, and why can’t we wait until June?), we long for great outdoor dining adventures. Pretty lights strung up between trees, the first fireflies of the season and a light breeze rustling the leafy trees. Yep, it’s time to dine and entertain on the deck, in the yard and on the screen porch.
Summer cooking tends to be simpler—less simmering and braising and more flipping and tossing—so making your meal homemade from start to finish is a breeze. Wouldn’t it be hospitable to offer a homemade seasonal beverage, too? Taking advantage of this year’s fragrant and juicy local strawberries, I wanted a cocktail base that could be used to liven homemade lemonade and iced tea or mixed with fizzy water for a refreshing non-alcoholic spring drink. For the whole deal cocktail, add a splash of herb-infused vodka and fresh lime juice and top with chilled seltzer. If you’re not wild about the anise vibe of fresh tarragon, use basil or another tender leafed herb like cilantro. Or make my Strawberry Cilantro Cocktail!
A couple of the cocktail components may be made ahead. The infused vodka needs a day or two to develop flavor, then once strained, it will last in the fridge for at least one week. The sweetened strawberry syrup ( but not too sweet) will last about one week in the fridge. You can even squeeze limes ahead by one week, so all that’s needed for a weekend libation is a shake (lowly jar or fancy cocktail shaker) and splash of seltzer. Make sure all components, especially the seltzer, are well chilled so your ice cubes stay icy. Room temperature liquids poured over ice means dilution of your carefully crafted cocktail.
Although we appear to have skipped a proper spring, I’m ready to embrace colorful local produce for my outdoor dining. Hope you enjoy this drink with the best of company as you welcome warm weather meals and entertaining.
Strawberry Tarragon Lime Cocktail
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
recipe for one cocktail beverage, but strawberry syrup and infused vodka will make at least four beverages
Add 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon (leaves, not stems) to one cup grain-free vodka made from potatoes or rice ( I like Luksusowa potato vodka or Cirrus) in glass jar and let sit at room temperature to develop flavor for 1-2 days (longer time=stronger flavor). Strain and store in the fridge.
Bring one cup water and one cup sugar to simmer, stirring until sugar melts, and simmer for one minute. When cool, add about one cup strawberry puree (two cups chopped strawberries pureed in blender or mini-chop equals about one cup) and chill at leash overnight; strain in fine mesh to remove seeds and most solids and store in the fridge. Add syrup to iced tea, lemonade or simply mix with your favorite sparkling water for a refreshing beverage, or use with this cocktail.
2 ounces tarragon infused vodka
2 ounces strawberry simple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
chilled plain seltezer
optional garnishes : lime slices, strawberries
- Have all ingredients well chilled before mixing.
- In clean jar or cocktail shaker, mix vodka, strawberry syrup and lime juice.
- Add ice cubes to tall glass, pour cocktail mixture and top beverage with seltzer.
- Garnish if desired.