As the days get longer and the produce more colorful, it seems only natural to go outside to enjoy some of springtime’s finest ingredients. In season right now are pineapple, blackberries, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mint, and navel oranges. Load your shopping cart full of fresh produce, and head home to craft some fresh concoctions.
Head Barman Kevin Burke of Denver’s Colt & Gray, who enjoys making cocktails at home just as much as he does behind the bar, showed us how to create a delicious spring cocktail with seasonal ingredients and no fuss. He chose a gin and grapefruit medley that you can easily manage at home.
Step #1: Hit the grocery store or local farmer’s market, and choose your seasonal ingredients. Burke has the luxury of shopping in the Colt & Gray walk-in cooler, and his ingredient of choice is grapefruit. He says he wants to savor the tail end of grapefruit season.
Step #2: Slice thin horns of ginger (Burke slices 4 because he loves the taste and wants a little extra in his cocktail). No need to peel it – you’re at home, after all, and the ginger peel is actually pretty darn good for you. Slice grapefruit, and add three or four hunks into the cocktail glass. “I love [grapefruit] as an acid,” says Burke. “Lemon and lime juice are lovely, but you have to add sugar for cocktails to combat their intense citrus flavors. Grapefruit you can enjoy on its own.”
Give the basil leaf a quick dice to open it up, and add it to the cocktail glass to deliver a hint of bitter taste to the mix’s sweetness. Muddle ginger, grapefruit and basil.
Step #3: “Now we need liquor,” Burke says with a smile. He adds an Old Tom Gin because it’s not as sweet as some of the other styles of gin. He doesn’t want to add any extra sweetness to this fruity drink. Then he adds ice. “At this point you could go away and wait,” says Burke. “I would make this, wash some dishes and clean up the kitchen, and then come back and have my cocktail as my reward.”
Step #4: “But I’m not sure that gin is the only thing we need. Maybe some bitters,” Burke says with a giddy smile. He pulls out Campari, adding a dash on top to enhance the drink’s pink color, as well as the grapefruit flavor. He then tops it with a splash of champagne on top. “I always try to have a bottle of bubbly at home, like every self-respecting adult should,” advises Burke. “And this one is pink — ’tis the season.”
Step #5: Take the cocktail you’ve created, and pour it into a mixing glass, and then back into the cocktail glass. Burke explains that this is a technique that bartenders call “rolling.” “I’m a big fan of one-glass cocktails where I don’t have to do a lot of dishes afterward.”
The final step, adding a grapefruit peel garnish, is optional. You could also shake, strain and pour the ginger and basil particles out, but Burke doesn’t think you need these extra touches if you’re at home. “So much of what’s done is for aesthetic reasons, but at the end of the day, if you’re making a drink for yourself, it should be easy.”
This cocktail seems pretty easy, and with minimal clean up, you’ll be enjoying the best of spring in no time.