Pink Peppercorn Paloma

pink-palomas

Mezcal, pretty pink peppercorns, and an aromatic vanilla bean salted rim join in happy union with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice over ice. I’ve been on a cocktail kick lately with sundress and sandal weather on my mind and am desperate for spring to actually grace us with her presence. Although there are daffodils, hyacinth and tulips galore in New York City, old man winter is having the final word with gusty cold winds and threats of spring snow.

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Hillstone makes their paloma with pink peppercorns and the combination really is fantastic. Citrus spiced pink peppercorns pop in the paloma; their flavor adds gentle heat. Smoky mezcal with grapefruit and pink peppercorns make for a delicious paloma with a vanilla bean salt rim that brings it up a notch.

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Mezcal is tequila’s smoky brother, but keep in mind that just like tequilas not all mezcals are made equal. For this paloma I used a light mezcal  with a subtle smoky nose. The sommelier from my restaurant brought me this bottle back from Mexico and I couldn’t resist putting it to good use. Up next I’m thinking pineapple-thyme Mexican 75s with mezcal instead of gin and passion fruit jalapeno combinations too.

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Pink Peppercorn Paloma

  • 2.0 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1.5 oz mezcal or tequila or even vodka
  • Squeeze of lime
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup

Paloma Garnish

  • Lemon twist
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean scraped

To make simple syrup blend one part water to one part sugar and heat on the stovetop or in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved. Scrape half of a vanilla bean and mix with sea salt. Run a lime wedge over the rim of the glass and dip in the vanilla salt to coat the rim for the paloma. Freshly squeeze your grapefruits. As a proud Floridian I urge you to actually squeeze your fruit, store-bought is never ever ever the same as fresh.

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Use 8-10 whole pink peppercorns per cocktail. Pour your ingredients into a shaker over ice and shake well. In a vanilla salted glass, pour over fresh ice and garnish with a lemon twist. This would also be great served up in a chilled martini or coup glass. Cheers!

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Guava Margaritas with a Smoky Salt Rim

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My guava love saga continues with tequila, grand marnier, and a smoky salted rim. The brief appearance of spring in New York City has lifted my spirits and instantaneously put a skip in my step. Spring is that magical time of year when the city comes back to life and the parks and rooftops are brimming with pale New Yorkers. As the bodegas fill up with tulips and daffodils, I feel inspired wear espadrilles and to sip spirits in the sun. Guava margaritas will have you celebrating spring and cure your winter blues in one smoky sip.

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Tequila reminds me of Miami and bright beach days with dirty coronas and late nights. In these guava margaritas, the sweetness of the guava is offset by the smoked paprika and the hot cayenne in the salted rim. I topped this spring cocktail with grapefruit soda, but prosecco or champagne would be killer. Apparently it is set to snow this Sunday, so I’ll enjoy this sunny spring preview with smoky guava margaritas and homemade Cuban food.

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Guava Margaritas with Smoked Salt Rim

Makes 2

  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce grand marnier
  • 2 teaspoons guava marmelade or guava sauce
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Top with grapefruit soda, prosecco, or champagne

Smoked Salt Rim

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Mix the salt rim ingredients on a flat plate. Run a lime over the rim of the glass and salt the rim. In a shaker over ice add the tequila, grand marnier, guava marmelade, and lime juice. Shake well and pour over fresh ice in the salted highballs. Top with a floater of grapefruit soda (I used San Pellegrino Pommelo) but prosecco or champagne would work well. Garnish the guava margaritas with a lime wheel and cheers to spring!

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Note: Mezcal would be amazing in these guava margaritas, but I had silver tequila on hand. I bet this could also be batched as a signature cocktail for a spring or summer party using both grapefruit soda and prosecco to make plenty for a crowd.

picture-perfect

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Gin Lavender Lemonade

stirred-not-shaken

The camphorous delicate buds of the lavender flower are intoxicating. I have been lusting after lavender lately. The soothing scent is familiar yet foreign especially when used culinarily. The restaurant where I work made a lavender panna cotta last season that awakened my taste buds and turned me on to this aromatic herb of love.

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Steeped in simple syrup, the sweet-smelling buds perfumed my entire apartment. The refreshing fragrance calmed and cleansed the air. Lavender reminds me of summertime in Europe. I learned to sit still amidst fat fuzzy bumble bees floundering about my head in Heidelberg. Their whirring wings intimidated me, but I relaxed knowing they were just foraging for sweet pollen.

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At the Union Square Farmers Market, I saw bunches of lavender with the same busy bumble bees bouncing from bud to bud. I bought fresh lavender bunches for décor, and dried lavender online for baking and boozing. I don’t want to inundate you with lavender recipes, but I’m thinking French 75s, lavender mojitos, and gin lavender lemonade- don’t get me started on the baked goods. All I know is in this cold city winter, gin lavender lemonade will make you wish for warmer weather and the buzzing of bumble bees around your head.

ingredients-for-lavender-lemonade

Gin Lavender Lemonade

Serves 4

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (5 large lemons)
  • 8 oz Hendricks (or gin/ vodka of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp lavender simple syrup (see below)
  • Soda water
  • Lemon twist or Lavender sprig (or both) to garnish

Lavender Simple Syrup

  • 2 tbsp dried lavender buds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Bring the 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and steep the dried lavender buds for 5 minutes. Strain and press the liquid out of the lavender buds (I’m saving the candied lavender buds in an airtight container to use as a garnish for baked goods; bake them at 225F for 15 minutes to dry them out). Allow the lavender simple syrup to cool.

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Juice the lemons (I like to peel the lemons and save the peel to make candied lemon zest or just lemon simple syrup to have on hand!). Mix the freshly squeezed lemon juice with the Hendricks, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 cups water, and 2 tbsp lavender simple syrup. Pour about 4 ounces of the gin lavender lemonade over ice. Top the gin lavender lemonade with soda water (or champagne if you’re feeling boozy) and garnish with a lavender sprig and lemon twist.

lavender-buds

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