Like chefs, bartenders design cocktails based upon a variety of different criteria. At the top of this wide and variant list is the question of the season. Indeed, whether the mixologist knows it consciously or not, I believe that we all ‘get in the mood, and that this mood compels us, instinctively, to follow the seasons.
Most people simply do not order hot toddies in the middle of summer and pina coladas tend to fall out of favor in the winter. Now reverse the roles and both drinks find favor in their respective seasons. Fresh berry smashes aren’t nearly as good out of season, when they are produced in the assembly lines of hothouses. I’ll hold that some drinks are timeless, but there is a reason that mint juleps are consumed almost exclusively, in Spring around Derby-time- even in Kentucky.
The following is a wonderfully light, refreshing summer cocktail meant to use the first of the year’s tomatoes and cucumbers. Drawing inspiration from Spain’s archetypical chilled summer soup, it finishes with the surprise of sweet balsamic vinegar exploding out of what appears to be a simple grape tomato in the bottom of the glass. Salud!
For the mix:
4 Vine-Ripened Tomatoes
2 Large English Cucumber
1 Garlic Clove
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Pepperoncinis, destemmed
1 Tbspn Pepperoncini brine
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Place all in a blender and blend until fine. Press through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer with the back of a ladle. Discard pulp (yet it does make a nice salsa with the addition of cilantro.) Strain the liquid through coffee filters (you will have to use more than one.
For the drink:
1 part Crystal Head Vodka, or other neutral vodka
3 parts Mix
Shaken, Served up.
For the garnish:
Meat Injection Needle
Simply inject the tomato, where the stem met fruit, with the injection needle. You will find that if you stir the inside of the tomato up a bit, it will absorb more vinegar. Take it slow, being careful not to pierce the bottom or to inject the vinegar too quickly. It can make quite the mess, if you let it!
Recipe and Article by BourbonBlog.com Beverage Consultant/Mixologist Stephen Dennison