Thursday, January 31, 2019

What's Jayme drinking?

Well, what do you know--I've managed to complete one last mocktail recipe for the whole Dry January thing. Talk about coming in under the wire. Just for the record, I don't really participate in Dry January or Dry July or whatever, because despite the idea these blog posts on tiki and beer may give, I don't drink that much. I learned long ago I don't enjoy being drunk all that much, and I enjoy hangovers even less, so moderation is the rule of the day.

That said, I like the idea of entertaining guests in my home tiki bar, but not everyone is going to be partaking in alcoholic cocktails for whatever reason. Someone has to drive home. Kids don't need to be drinking Mai Tais, either. So when I started this I wanted to come up with three mocktails these folks could enjoy that 1) looked as flashy and ornate as any tiki cocktail I could make, and B) have unique flavors and textures so that the guest is distracted from the fact their beverage is lacking any intoxicating spirits. I like to think I've accomplished that with these three recipes. Here's the latest:

By Jayme Blaschke
2 oz. Mango juice
1 oz. White grapefruit juice
0.75 oz. Prickly pear shrub
0.75 oz. Ginger syrup
0.5 oz. Lime juice
0.5 oz. Coconut milk
0.5 oz. Tonic water
0.25 oz. Honey syrup (2:1)
8 oz. Crushed ice

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend on high until thoroughly liquified. Pour unstrained into poco grande glass. Garnish with mango balls and umbrella pick. Plastic monkey optional.

In keeping with my tiki-themed drinks, I wanted one frozen mocktail to round out my menu, something that could stand alongside fruity piƱa coladas and the like. A frozen drink is going to lean toward the sweet side, but at the same time I wanted it to have some balance, so that it wasn't simply a one-dimensional sugar bomb. The other week I tried my hand at making a prickly pear shrub, using a couple of pounds of prickly pear fruit I'd stored in the freezer since last fall. A shrub is an old way of storing perishable fruits in a vinegar mix to preserve the nutrition and prevent spoilage. It was a popular drink in the days predating refrigeration--think of it as old-school kombucha without the tea (although once can make shrubs with tea as well). I thought the soft, melon-like flavor would pair well with mango (I use Sunberry Farms mango juice), and I was right. But bringing added dimension and balance to the drink proved to be a pain. I tried different combinations of ingredients, but some mixes were too syrupy, others flat and one-dimensional, some unpleasantly bitter. For example, I really wanted to use lemon juice, as lemon and mango go well together, but the acidity of the lemon wasn't enough to stand out among the other ingredients. I eventually went with the more potent lime. The ginger and honey syrups added complexity and sweetness, while the white grapefruit juice and tonic brought a balancing bitterness. The coconut milk was a late addition for an improved mouthfeel. The resulting cocktail is a frosty, sweet treat, but it's not a cloying sugar bomb.

As for the mocktail's most striking quality--Anyone who's ever worked with prickly pear fruit knows the juice is an incredible magenta-burgundy color. Even the limited amount of shrub in this drink completely dominates, color-wise. To be honest, I overdid the amount of apple cider vinegar in the shrub, which is why I limit the amount to three-quarters of an ounce (more than that and the otherwise-mild vinegar flavor because a distraction). That eye-watering neon pink is completely natural. A friend observed this mocktail is the same color as American Beauty Berries, which, you know, is exactly right. Imagine the color with even more prickly pear involved!

As for the cocktail name, I have to give credit where credit is due. Thank you John Prine.

All photography by Secrets By Miss Lisa.

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