Vodka isn’t a spirit I know much about. Oh I’ve drank enough of it in my time, believe me, but it’s usually reserved for a nondescript vodka & cranberry while I dance the night away, too dizzy to think of anything else. Or with Coke in plastic cups, in suspect bars where my only other options are Tropical VKs or pints of Fosters. While we’ve been building up our home bar (something I’d like to write a post about very soon, but here’s a good one while you wait), vodka has pretty much sat there without much attention: a simple bottle of Green Mark collecting dust on our faux-marble trolley top. So when I got sent a little sample bottle of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, I used it as a much needed chance to give something I’d fallen out of love with a new lease of life.
Cocktails with a herby element are often my favourites, and while I’m not trained in the art of mixology, I think adding some botanicals is a great way to balance the sweetness of what usually starts with a spirit and a fruit juice. I’m partial to a Basil Grandé, so I know basil with berries works well, but for the vodka I had a hankering for citrus. Knowing how well a Screwdriver seems to go down (especially on board short-haul easyJet flights to southern Spain), I figured an acidic, fruity match would be a reliable place to start. A flavoured sugar syrup is an easy extra that seems pretty impressive, so I decided a quick infusion would be a good way to deliver a robust rosemary flavour and add something creative to my recipe.
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I’ve never made a syrup before, at least not one I can remember, but I’m in awe of those people who have these sort of concoctions on their fridge shelves, ready to roll out just in case they fancy something special come 5pm. It was simple enough, just sugar, herbs, water and a bit of time made for a gorgeous, aromatic element to an otherwise pretty formulaic cocktail. As well as adding rosemary flavour, the sweetness of the syrup also serves to mellow the tartness of the grapefruit – a fruit I generally associate with old, wiry women with pinched faces and teaspoons. A health food in the extreme *shudder*.
Shake the vodka, syrup, grapefruit juice and a squeeze of lime with ice, and top up with tonic water. Served from a pitcher with plenty of ice, it’s a cliché but this feels a little like summer in a glass. If you can, drink it outside in bright sunlight, with some king prawns on the barbie.
Grapefruit & Rosemary Fizz (makes a pitcher: 6-8 glasses)
10 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
8 Shots of Vodka
1 litre Pink Grapefruit Juice
1 Bottle of Tonic Water
1. Place a small pan over a medium heat. Pour in one cup of tap water and add one cup of sugar. Whisk to distribute the sugar and add 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary.
2. Bring to the mix to the boil and allow to bubble for one minute. Remove from heat and leave to steep for 30 minutes before draining into a sterilised container and placing in the fridge to cool for a couple of hours. If you’re in a rush, put it in the freezer, but don’t forget about it!
3. Fill a pitcher half way up with ice. Add the vodka, syrup and squeeze in the juice of both limes.
4. Pour in the grapefruit juice and muddle until well mixed. Top with tonic water and garnish with slices of fresh grapefruit and sprigs of rosemary.