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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Gin Lavender Lemonade
- 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.
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.