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  • Writer's pictureDane

Drinks with Dane | Week 1

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

In this week’s newsletter, we've got some multi-season drinks to get the most out of the remaining sunshine.

Hey there Friend , Summer's not gone quite yet. There's still a lot of sunshine left for sippin’. We're featuring a great mocktail that's friendly for everyone and still can easily be turned into a delicious summer sipper with the addition of your favorite spirit. 


Trend Alert: Smashes are Smashing!

A smash is an old style of cocktail – simply put - its spirit of your choice, sweetener, and any seasonal fruit or herb muddled. A Mint Julep is a classic example of a smash.

One of the earliest examples of a smash appears as a julep recipe in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 How to Mix Drinks, or, The Bon Vivant’s Companion. Thomas doesn’t mention a smash, but by defining a julep, establishes the category of cocktail. In 1888, barman Harry Johnson expanded the category of the smash by creating four distinct smash recipes with his Old Style Whiskey Smash, Fancy Whiskey Smash, Fancy Brandy Smash, and Medford Rum Smash. Seasonal fruit is introduced to the "fine ice" and muddled mint with fruit garnishes and a fine strain using a julep strainer for the "Fancy" versions. The works of Jerry Thomas, Harry Johnson, and many others help to drive the Golden Age of American cocktails.

Smashes pop up in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930 to as many of the professional bartenders of the Golden Age moved overseas during the Prohibition. America's first cultural export is the Cocktail. They're listed in the julep category again, but this time it's more of a method than a recipe and that's the a-ha! moment. The smash doesn't have an exact definition. It's freeform and infinitely flexible. It's perfect for uncertain times or ingredients because almost without exception, it will work with what you have.  You need ice. You need seasonal fruit. You can use the fruit as just a garnish. Any spirit will do. You need herbs. Mint is the usual suspect, but so many other herbs work too. Consider cilantro or dill with aquavit or sage with an apple brandy. Peach bourbon smash with ginger or basil, any berry with gin or vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup is always a favorite for late summer. Smashes are seasonal and work best with what’s in-season and fresh or what you have on hand. They're made for hot weather to quench your thirst and perhaps soothe your soul.


Cocktail of the Week: The Princesses Cup

The Princesses Cup is a flexible summer smash. I built as a mocktail for anyone to enjoy but it would also sing with any lighter spirit like vodka, gin, or light rum. We’re going to get you comfortable making flavored simple syrups that can be used in almost anything and we’ll show you how easily this can be scaled up into a large batch for a party. 


What you’ll need:

  • Cucumber

  • Watermelon (half or a small will yield more than enough)

  • Mint

  • Sugar 

  • Lemon 

  • Ginger beer

  • Mesh strainer 

  • Mandoline slicer or vegetable peeler 

  • Shaker tins and jigger

  • Juicer or blender 

Mint Syrup - Equal Parts Sugar, Water, and Mint If you’re only going to have a few cocktails – keep it small with 1/2 cup (by volume) of sugar, water, and mint leaves. If you want to make a large batch, scale it up to what you think need. For reference, 2 cups of each ingredient will yield enough syrup for 30 cocktails.  Put sugar, water, and mint leaves in a medium to large saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup steep for 30 minutes. Strain out the mint leaves and keep the syrup refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 30 days.   

Watermelon Syrup - 2:1 Fresh Watermelon Juice to Sugar Now that you've got the 1:1 ratio down we’re going to make a 2:1 watermelon syrup. Remove the watermelon's rind and chop it into into chunks. Then either juice or blend it. If you use a blender and you have a fine mesh strainer, strain the blended watermelon to get a pulp-free juice. You can skip straining but your final cocktail won't be crystal clear. Straining vs. not straining won't impact the flavor. In your pot or saucepan bring two parts watermelon juice with one part sugar to a boil, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Once all the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool. Keep the syrup refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 30 days. 

The Princesses Cup serves 1 Cucumber slices 1 ½ oz watermelon syrup ½ oz mint syrup 1oz fresh lemon juice  3 oz ginger beer Cucumber ribbon  Mint sprig  Combine cucumber slices and lemon juice in a shaker tin and muddle with cucumber. Add the watermelon and mint syrups, then shake with ice until the tins are frosty cold. In a Collins glass, place cucumber ribbon and fill with fresh ice. Pour 3 oz ginger beer into Collins glass. Strain shaker tin into Collins glass. Garnish with fresh mint sprig. Enjoy! Large Format

This recipe can be scaled up to any size – pitcher to punch bowl. Muddle batches of cucumbers with lemon, mint syrup, and watermelon syrup. This can be kept in any large container, dispensed out and topped off with ginger beer.

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