If you’ve ever visited our glorious Cocktail Terrace, you’re familiar with our whimsical Poptails. For those unfamiliar, (who, by the way, need to get your cocktail-loving booty up there!) Poptails are flavored popsicles served with chilled mixtures of booze for an adult cocktail version of a Fun-Dip. So today’s “cocktail” is inspired by the fanciful nature of our beloved poptails. Don’t be attached to the classic definitions of cocktails and how they should be presented. Warm weather always calls for something cold and crisp, and today’s cocktail delivers on that promise. A granita is a frozen dessert made from sugar, water and assorted flavors. Today, I will be sharing how to make a boozy strawberry granita that is sure to be a well-deserved vacation in a glass. I really want to add some depth to this, so I added herbs to create balance between the inherent sweetness of frozen treats. The garnish for this cocktail is balsamic vinegar-soaked strawberries to add another perspective and nuance of flavor, rather than just sweet on sweet.
1 lb strawberries, sliced and hulled
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup chopped tarragon
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup lime juice
1/8 tsp vanilla
In a medium sized pan over medium high heat add sugar water and strawberries. Stir intermittently until all of the sugar has dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved, add herbs and vanilla. Bring up to a boil and then lower heat to low. Simmer mixture for 30 minutes until strawberries have really started to break down. Remove from heat and then stir in lime juice. Allow mixture to cool then strain through a fine mesh strainer. Use a ladle to really squeeze down on the strawberries to get every last drop of liquid.
STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE GRANITA
1 ½ cups sparkling wine
2 cups strawberry syrup
Combine sparkling wine and strawberry syrup then pour mixture into a flat-bottomed pan or glass dish. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Stir mixture very thoroughly with a fork and allow it to freeze for another 30 minutes. Repeat process once an hour for 3 to 4 hours. Make sure to mix the granita well each time, scraping down the sides. The idea is to prevent ice crystals from forming so that you wind up with a consistency similar to sorbet. Boozy granita is not as firm as regular granita, but it’s a small price to pay for a little buzz.
1 lb strawberries
¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Ground pepper to taste
Place strawberries in a bowl. Drizzle vinegar over strawberries, and sprinkle with sugar and pinch of salt. Stir gently to combine. Cover, then let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour, but no more than 4 hours. Just before serving, grind pepper over berries.
I like to serve this “cocktail” in chilled, old fashioned coupes with a sweet little teaspoon to eat it up with. I garnish with a balsamic strawberry and a sprig of parsley.
DOUBLE DUTY: You can use the strawberry syrup as a fun mixer for cocktails with just about any spirit – rye, gin and tequila being the most well-suited for this concoction. I would do 1 ½ oz spirit to 1 oz booze then add soda water. The balsamic strawberries make for awesome additions to salads or just sprinkled over burrata with a little olive oil.
LIKE A VIRGIN: You can make this granita family friendly by simply omitting the booze. Since the granita will freeze more quickly without the booze, make sure you check the mixture about every half hour. You can also use the strawberry syrup as a base for a zippy lemonade or soda.
It does make it so fun when you can shed the shackles of what traditional cocktails should be, then you really get to stretch your imagination. The goal is to have fun and be creative, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes and experiment.
Cheers, friends, and here’s to breaking the mold
Your neighborhood bartender,