Celebrating Springtime

Yep - that’s sun!

At last the warm weather is finally here! After the coolest April on record things have gotten practically hot. This can mean only one thing - spring in Kentucky. 

With spring weather (which seemingly disappeared this morning), it’s time to clean off that patio or deck and prepare for some outdoor celebrating. So, I’ve been on the look out for some great cocktails to accompany these celebrations of this short spring before summer takes the reins.

I’ve written a few articles about summertime cocktails and libations for yuletide celebrations, but what does one imbibe to celebrate spring? Why not grab some of the delectable fruits and flavors that are abundant this time of the year…Lemon, rhubarb, elderflowers or mangos are all lovely flavors.

Lemon & Thyme

Thanks to my grandmother, I’ve loved the flavor of lemon since I was a child. Recently, I was looking at some new cocktail recipes and when I came across Vodka-Thyme lemonade I knew I had to try it. The flavor of this cocktail comes from the citrus vodka and the muddled lemon. 

Margaritas with a Twist

I’m also a bit of a tequila drinker but typically only drink it in traditional margaritas. But I had a friend ask me for something a little bit sweeter. So, how about a Mango-elderflower frozen margarita? It’s definitely a bit on the sweet side but makes a refreshing drink on the warmer spring and summer days. I bet I will find myself on the patio with one of these in the near future - enjoying the setting sun!

Rhubarb!

If mango isn’t your thing, how about a rhubarb inspired drink called a Bridal Shower? With the month of June, and wedding season, quickly approaching, I think this might be popular with quite a few ladies. The sweet rhubarb is offset by the lemon juice and a little touch of bitters to give you a nice balance.

Simple Syrups

Many cocktails contain either simple syrup or some flavored syrup. You can prepare these at home and they will keep in your refrigerator for weeks -- sometimes months. I’ve included a basic simple syrup recipe this week, as well as variations for the Lemon-thyme or Rhubarb syrups. Remember to store these in a clean airtight container in the refrigerator after preparation.

Please remember to drink responsibly.

Vodka-Thyme Lemonade

(single serving)

  • 4 lemon wedges
  • Fine sugar for rimming the glass
  • Ice
  • 2 oz citrus vodka (I used Absolut Citron)
  • 1 oz chilled club soda (more if you want it a bit weaker)
  • 1 lemon-thyme sprig for garnish
  • 2 oz Lemon-thyme syrup

Moisten the outer rim of a highball glass with 1 lemon wedge and coat with fine sugar. Add ice to the glass. In cocktail shaker, muddle the remaining 3 lemon wedges with the Lemon-thyme syrup. Add ice and the vodka and shake well. Stir in the club soda. Strain the drink into the prepared highball and garnish with a lemon-thyme sprig.

Mango-Elderflower Margaritas

(serves 4)

  • 10 oz frozen mango
  • ½ cup tequila
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 TBSP elderflower liquor (like St. Germain)
  • ¼ cup cold water

Puree the mango in a blender with the tequila, elderflower liquor and water until smooth. Divide between 4 glasses and serve.

 

Bridal Shower

(single serving)

  • 2 oz vodka
  • ¼ oz Campari
  • ¾ oz Rhubarb syrup
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of Fee Brothers Old Fashioned bitters or Angostura bitters
  • 1 oz chilled club soda
  • 2 long, thin slices of rhubarb stalk for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all the remaining ingredients except the club soda and garnish and shake well. Strain the drink into an ice filled Collins glass and stir in the club soda. Garnish with the rhubarb stalks.

Basic Simple syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Place sugar and water in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves completely. Reduce heat and simmer an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow cooling fully. Transfer to a clean glass container with airtight lid and store in refrigerator. Good for several weeks.

Variations on basic simple syrup:

Lemon-Thyme syrup:  To the basic syrup recipe, add ½ cup of water and 2 TBSP sugar. Place all the sugar and water into a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add ¾ oz of lemon thyme sprigs to the pan and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 2 hours up to overnight. Add ¾ cup of fresh lemon juice and strain the syrup. Store the syrup in a clean, airtight container in refrigerator.

Rhubarb syrup: To the basic syrup recipe, add 4 cups of chopped rhubarb. Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar. Use a fine mesh strainer (or course mesh lined with cheese cloth) over a large bowl to strain the syrup. Press down the chunks of rhubarb to release extra syrup. Pour into a clean, airtight bottle and store in refrigerator.  

A version of this article was originally published on iList 04/05/16