With Labor Day right around the corner, I thought it’d be appropriate to provide a recipe for a delicious, refreshing, and of course, intoxicating cocktail, perfect for your holiday weekend sipping. This is one of my all-time favorites that I made up a few years ago at Palais Royale and a regular named it, “The Greatfruit“. You will need to get started today to have it ready by Sunday or Monday, depending on when your BBQ or beach trip is. First things first, buy quality vodka. I love Hangar One. Try it! Here’s what you need:
- 1 bottle of quality vodka (Hangar One, Imperia, Three Olives are all good)
- 2 bunches of lemon verbena (look at your local markets, they may have it)
- Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (Simply Grapefruit is yummy if you can’t find fresh)
- yuzu juice
- light agave nectar
- soda water
- grapefruit zest (from skin of one fruit)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- lemon balm, mint, or lemon verbena for garnish
- jigger (usually double sided, 1 oz & 2 oz sides)
- drink shaker
Okay. First, pound the 2 bunches of lemon verbena with a mallet, wooden spoon, whatever. This will release the herb’s oils and flavor. Tear the leaves apart and put in the bottle of vodka to infuse. The longer you let it sit, the better. I like to leave it for a few days.
Before you start mixing your cocktail, let’s make the grapefruit sugar for the rims of the glasses you will be serving it in. Zest a grapefruit and spread it very thinly on a cookie sheet. Put your oven on 125 or 150 degrees, very very low. You are dehydrating the zest. Let bake for 30-45 minutes, checking on it every 15 minutes. You want it to be completely dry. Set to the side and let it cool. Once cool, mix the dry zest with the white sugar. Take a napkin and drizzle a small pool of grapefruit juice onto it. Lightly tap the rim of each glass on the wet napkin. This will be the glue to keep your grapefruit sugar looking beautiful. Don’t get it too wet or the sugar will sludge down the side of the glass.
Once your vodka is sufficiently infused, you’re ready to make your drink. Pour 2 2 oz jigger shots (4 oz total) of vodka into your shaker (glass) of ice. Next, pour a total of 8 oz. of grapefruit juice. Add 1 tablespoon of agave. Finally, 4 quick shakes of yuzu juice. Cover and shake. Pour into your grapefruit sugared glasses, careful not to spill on the rims. Finish each drink with a splash of soda water and garnish with a lemon verbena or lemon balm leaf.
This will make 2 7-8oz drinks. Get to mixing! Uh, and DRANKIN’. (Go to Lafayette in Nolita to get some Bloody Kim Jong-il Mix. Perfect for the morning after a bunch of Greatfruits.)
Note: Yuzu is the goddamn jam. It’s a Japanese citrus fruit that tastes like lime and grapefruit had a baby. It’s also very expensive. This is what I get. It runs about $8-9 per bottle. Find it at your asian market.