We hosted a dinner party for some girlfriends one night and, as is our way, we tried to pull out all the stops. We didn’t want to just make fabulous things to eat – we also wanted to whip up some fun cocktails as well. We settled on two: Herb’s Harvest and Waverly Place Echo. The former got its name from a line of herb-infused vodkas which no longer exists. Not to worry, as the woman at that vodka-maker told me, we can create our own at home. And so we did. All we had to do was add a handful of fresh rosemary to a bottle of vodka, and let it sit for a couple of days. The longer you let it sit the better. The most difficult aspect of this recipe has to be making the pear purée (which is not very difficult but for folks who stick to cooking the basics or don’t cook at all it can seem intimidating). You can also buy pre-made pear purée if you just want to save time – just check the label so you know exactly what’s in it.

Herb’s Harvest

Ingredients

  • 2 parts rosemary-infused vodka
  • 1/2 part pear purée
  • 1/2 part lemon juice
  • 1/4 part almond syrup (such as Torani brand)
  • 3/4 part cranberry juice (optional but recommended)
  • sprig of rosemary for garnish (optional)

Preparation

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary (Only if desired. Frankly, it’s unnecessary and you can put that money towards other aspects of your party).

Waverly Place Echo

This winter cocktail and the recipes that follow were created by Scott Beattie and can be found in his book Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus. It’s more involved than Herb’s Harvest because the drink is composed of several different recipes. But it’s worth it.

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce Hangar One mandarin orange blossom vodka
  • ¾ ounce vodka
  • 6 Five-Spice Marinated Mandarin Orange Segments (see recipe)
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 5 or 6 Candied Meyer Lemon Peels (see recipe)
  • ½ ounce Chinese Five-Spice Syrup (see recipe)
  • 3 Kaffir lime leaves, cut into long chiffonade
  • ¾ ounce seltzer

Chinese Five-Spice Syrup

Makes 2 ²⁄³ cups (enough for about 25 cocktails and 30 marinated mandarin orange segments)

  • 5 whole star anise pods
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

Use a spice or coffee grinder to grind the spices to a coarse powder. Heat a large stainless steel pan over medium heat and add the spices. Shimmy the pan to distribute the spices evenly and heat until you see wisps of smoke, usually a few seconds. Remove pan from heat and continue tossing the spices, being careful not to burn them. Once fragrant, add the simple syrup to the spices and bring to a boil in the pan. Reduce heat to low and add the honey. Simmer for 5 minutes to infuse the syrup mixture with the spices, then remove from heat. Let the mixture cool to at least room temperature, then strain it through a fine-mesh strainer or chinois to remove any solids. The syrup will keep for 3-4 weeks if refrigerated in an airtight container.

Five-Spice Marinated Mandarin Orange Segments

Makes 30 segments (enough for 5 cocktails)

  • 5 satsuma mandarins
  • 1 cup Chinese Five-Spice Syrup, at room temperature

Remove the outer peel of the mandarin and the white stringy stuff. Separate the segments and place them in a bowl with the syrup. Let them marinate for at least 15 minutes before using. The segments will last for about 1 week if kept refrigerated in an airtight container.

Candied Meyer Lemon Peels

Makes about 5 peels (enough for 1 cocktail)

  • 1 large Meyer lemon
  • ½ cup simple syrup (equal parts of water and sugar, heated until the sugar dissolves)

Using a potato peeler or a sharp paring knife, remove the zest from the lemon in long, wide pieces from the top of the lemon to the bottom (you can usually get about 5 pieces of peel per lemon). Avoid the white bitter pith as much as possible. Use the lemon for the freshly squeezed juice called for above. Heat the simple syrup in a stainless steel pan over high heat until it boils. Add the peels, bring the syrup back up to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Let the syrup and peels cool to at least room temperature before using. The peels will last for up to 1 week stored in the syrup in an airtight container and refrigerated.

~Christina

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