A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brunch cocktails

Oro blanco grapefruit
Brunch is one of my favorite meals.  I love that I can sleep in and not be late.  I can choose breakfast-y or lunch-y.  AND -- It's not too early to have a cocktail.  The Mimosa and Bloody Mary are go-tos with my normal brunch crowd.   It was time to branch out, especially if it meant I could utilize ingredients that I have in abundance.  This past week I had piles of lemon verbena branches from pruning this lovely-smelling herb.  I also had hundreds of pounds of citrus -- specifically grapefruit.  I'll be contending with the citrus for days (months? years?) to come, thanks to Bill's trees.   Ok -- challenge of the week:  brunch cocktails that feature lemon verbena and citrus (grapefruit!).  

lemon verbena
getting started infusing
just finished infusion
When the lemon verbena bush was dramatically pruned at work, I gathered up an armful of branches and lugged them home.  I'd seen Heidi Swanson's post on making a lemon-verbena drop with lemon-verbena infused vodka and it was the perfect time to give that a try.  I stuffed several fistfuls of the fresh, washed lemon verbena into a Ball Jar and filled it with vodka.  It sat in the cupboard for almost 36 hours.  When I first strained it, it was a light yellowish green color with a faint lemon verbena scent.  It sat another three days before I used it to make lemon verbena drops.  In those three days some sort of oxidation happened and the vodka darkened several shades to a deep golden amber.  Check out the photos of the color difference.

lemon verbena infusion Day 3
When it came to making the lemon verbena drops, the recipe called for 2 ounces infused vodka, a splash of limoncello and simple syrup to taste, served in a martini glass with a sugared rim and a curl of lemon peel.  In the future I'll make my own limoncello -- a similar infusion process using lemon peels, vodka and sugar. 

When I made my lemon-verbena drop it looked pretty (despite the darkened color), but it tasted Blech!

Here's my altered recommendation (in my opinion, delicious!):
2 ounces lemon-verbena infused vodka
1/2 ounce + splash limoncello
1/4 teaspoon medium simple syrup (3 parts water:  2 parts sugar)
a hardy squeeze of fresh lemon

Next on the list was to tackle more of that citrus -- especially the beautifully fragrant and tart Oro Blanco grapefruit.  These thick-skinned white grapefruit are practically seedless and have a lovely grapefruit flavor.  I've read that Oro Blanco are a sweet variety of grapefruit, but these definitely still pack a pucker. 

A grapefruit mimosa seemed like an obvious cocktail, so I pressed on in my search for something more adventurous.  On weekend brunch trips to San Francisco I've enjoyed the french toast with mascarpone and brunch pizza at Beretta -- and they have a great morning cocktail, the Pamplemousse.  I was pleased to find Beretta's bar manager, Ryan Fitzgerald's recipe for the Pamplemousse online (and also to see that he's teaching a cocktail class series!).  Basil is not in season, I didn't have the recommended gin, and I had pressed way too much juice (and, despite what you might think from this post, I don't mind a more-juice:alcohol ratio), and so here's what went into my slightly altered Pamplemousse:
Pamplemousse w Oro Blanco grapefruit juice
1 ounce Hendrick's gin
2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (with pulp)
½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
Shaken with ice, pulp not strained.  

My colleague, Sarah, ingeniously, took the lemon verbena home and made her own cocktail.  She used it to make a variation of the Plantation, in which she swapped out the basil for lemon verbena.  The plantation already makes good use of grapefruit juice -- perfect!  I'll save that recipe for next weekend.  
Happy brunching!

1 comment:

  1. You're a genius! These look fantastic.