It has been a busy week in the Spy Test Kitchens. We have, in the interest of good taste and good food journalism, been testing cocktail recipes that we solicited from Food Friday’s gentle readers. I am surrounded by the detritus of the week’s experiments: every sort of glass, goblet, coupe, flute, Red Solo Cup and jelly jar that you can imagine holding a cool, refreshing summer cocktail. We’ve poured and measured, shaken and stirred gin, London gin, Navy Strength Gin, so many gins, vodka, rum, cognac, lemon juice, lime juice, pomegranate juice, simple syrup, coconut milk, tonic water, club soda, Coke, cranberry juice, Champagne and wine, and even elderflower liqueur. Oh, the things we do for the annual Summer Sips list!
In the Test Kitchen I have a little stash of Post-Its with scribbled notes in Mr. Sanders’s indecipherable scrawl. I’ve got a Google doc with recipes and links from loyal readers. There is even email with links to tasty drinks from the lovely Spy writer, Laura J. Oliver. Next year I think we will need an Excel spreadsheet to keep it all straight.
Our first recipe came from Spy reader Lesley Schless, with the intriguing name: Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’s Gin Gimlet. You might remember the YA book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg, about Claudia and Jamie, the children who ran away from home and took up residence among the treasures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. A dream come true for so many of us! At least the Gin Gimlet is an approachable escape.
Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’s Gin Gimlet
From Lesley Schless
2 ounces fresh lime juice
Lime zest, to taste
1 ounce simple syrup
A few fresh basil leaves
4 ounces gin (or vodka)
Muddle basil leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add lime juice and zest,
simple syrup, and a few ice cubes. Shake shake shake. Add clear stuff and shake some more. Pour in a chilled martini-type glass. Aahhh….
Another reader recipe comes to the Spy from Lisa Meyers, whose recipe is capable of serving a party of hearty vacationers. Sunset on the dock, while waiting for the Sturgeon Moon to rise, is the perfect time for a pitcher of fruity sangria. Before the mosquitoes carry us away.
Peach and Blackberry Sangria
From Lisa Meyers
2 bottles white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 cup Lyon Blackberry Rum
1 peach, in bite-sized slices
1 cup blackberries
1 can peach hard seltzer, such as White Claw
In a pitcher combine everything but the seltzer and chill for several hours. When ready to serve stir in peach seltzer and pour over ice and enjoy!
Should I be surprised that the French 75 is a favorite drink for Spy writers? It is my fancy, go-to cocktail, and it is Laura Oliver’s, too. Her recipe comes from the venerable Bon Appétit magazine website.
From Laura J. Oliver
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces Champagne
Long spiral lemon twist
Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds.
Strain cocktail through a Hawthorne strainer or a slotted spoon into a large flute. Top with Champagne; garnish with lemon twist.
The French 75 received its name after the French 75-millimeter light field gun used during WWI, the Canon de 75 modèle 1897 is the source of the name of the cocktail. It is a kick-y drink that packs the punch of artillery. I never have more than one. The Olivers also enjoy a Pomegranate Martini, which is a pretty pink, perfect for the holidays, or your Barbie-staycation sunsets on the back porch.
Not to be outdone, Mr. Sanders has three recipes for the French 75; two with gin, one with cognac. He is a completist. This weekend we managed to find the time to make Limoncello Spritzes. Wowser. Talk about artillery fire! Easy peasy, but a little too strong and sweet for me:
Thanks for sharing your recipes, Gentle Readers. Be sure to serve lots of deelish nibbles with your cocktails, and to responsibly enjoy your cocktail hour.
“The adventure is over. Everything gets over, and nothing is ever enough. Except the part you carry with you. It’s the same as going on a vacation. Some people spend all their time on a vacation taking pictures so that when they get home they can show their friends evidence that they had a good time. They don’t pause to let the vacation enter inside of them and take that home.”
― E. L. Konigsburg, From The Mixed Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler