As readers of this blog may know, my friends and I are ardent fans of gathering and making drinks together, specifically of the handcrafted variety. It’s a ritual we creatively call “Fresh Cocktail Hour.” I’ve only documented a few of these forays into mixology on this blog (see examples here, here, and here), but I can assure you that there have been many, many more boozy adventures than what’s been reported. You know, like child molestation. We’ve done Pimms Cups, Victory Lemonade, blood orange gin fizzes, cucumber gin fizzes, margaritas (Ina’s version and the “classic” style, which is not so classic), mojitos, Moscow Mules, basil gimlets, ginger champagne cocktails, and who knows what else. Clearly, this is our passion.
And so it was no surprise that when I came upon the book Organic, Shaken, and Stirred by Paul Abercrombie, my heart skipped a beat. Here was an entire volume of cocktail recipes that all emphasized fresh, interesting ingredients. No boring whiskey & coke here (although, admittedly, that is a perfectly fine drink). Fortuitously, my friend Malibu Judie was with me, and so the two of us found some chairs in Barnes & Noble and fastidiously pored through each and every page of the book, ooohing and ahhing at some of more inspired and exotic recipes on display. Unfortunately, my hatred of berries and things like peach and watermelon meant that a good number of the recipes didn’t appeal to me, but that’s sort of a given any time I buy a cocktail book. There were certainly many, many options for me, and so I happily purchased the book and fantasized about the many exciting Fresh Cocktail Hours to come.
If there was anyone more excited than I was about all this, it was my dear friend Sly, who spent the drive home from Barnes & Noble leafing through the recipes, emitting low-frequency moans of approval and pleasure. A certain drink called the Purple Basil Gimlet actually elicited some sort of primal gurgling from the depths of Sly’s throat, followed by the sort of munching noises usually reserved for hungry squirrels. Clearly, this book had been received well.
The real test, however, would be in the creation of the cocktails. Last night, we finally made our first foray into Organic, Shaken, and Stirred. Sly and her friend made an impromptu visit to my abode, and I decided it was time to try one of these drinks. I had lots of basil in the fridge, and I knew Sly was a fan of tequila. And so it was declared: we would be attempting the basil margarita.
We start with many leaves of basil, which I drop into my pitcher. Sly, being the ever alert photographer, managed to miss all this, but here’s a nice picture of me tending to the rejected leaves.
Next up, time to juice some limes. This means I get to call upon my handy dandy citrus juicer, which has proven to be an amazing time saver for these sort of things.
They juicin’! They juicin’!
I am clearly unimpressed with something about Sly.
I soon have a nice yield of lime juice — about a quarter of a cup.
In the pitcher are basil leaves, the lime juice, and also about a quarter of a cup of agave nectar.
Next goes about five ounces of tequila. I should note that we were making a batch for only three people. Hence, the small proportions.
The margarita takes form.
I add ice to the pitcher and transform it into a giant shaker. This is followed by –you guessed it — shaking.
The first taste…
This, my friends, was a home run. There was perhaps a touch too much agave, but that was nothing that a few squeezes of lime couldn’t balance out. The final product was delicious. It was smooth, tasty, and the hint of basil was just right. In between moans of ecstasy, Sly went so far as to proclaim that this was the best cocktail to emerge from my kitchen. Looks like we have a winner here.
Yes, I was very pleased with the outcome, and now I’m most enthused about the rest of this book. Perhaps I may even introduce a “Cocktail of the Week” segment to this blog. Everyone could use more cocktails, right? Suggestions welcomed.