Upgraded Lemon Drop Recipe


The Lemon Drop was one of the most popular cocktails in the US in the later part of the 20th century. It should follow a simple formula of spirit, lemon, and sweetener, but sadly, in many bars the drink disintegrated into a candied mess. It's time to give the Lemon Drop the glory it deserves.

As with much of cocktail history, the origin story of the Lemon Drop is murky at best. Rumor has it that the drink was created sometime in the 1970s at a bar called Henry's Africa in San Francisco, and that their goal was to popularize so-called "girly drinks." But there's no reason to banish this simple cocktail to the dark days of drinking history.

Cocktail geeks often criticize vodka for being flavorless, but in my opinion, this is not its greatest weakness...it's the spirits greatest strength. A clean, well-made vodka can serve as a true blank canvas, enhancing other flavors and allowing them to shine. This is clearly evident when the Lemon Drop is properly constructed.

High quality storebought citrus vodka such as Stolichnaya will suffice in this cocktail, but the drink gets even better with an added homemade touch. Try infusing your own vodka with sweet Meyer lemons if you can find them. Then proceed with fresh lemon juice and superfine sugar to let your homemade infusion shine. This drink's beauty is in its simplicity, and the end result is bright, clean, and refreshing.

You can also consider the Lemon Drop as a starting point for experimentation. Consider swapping out some of the sugar for a touch of Cream Limoncello, which turns the cocktail into a tart (and alcoholic) lemon meringue pie.


  • 2 ounces citrus vodka
  • 3/4 ounces fresh juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Garnish: Lemon twist


  1. Combine the vodka, lemon juice, and sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

 Souce : http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/04/upgraded-lemon-drop-cocktail-simple-vodka-drink-recipe.html

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The Isla Bonita: An Elegant Pineapple Punch Fit for a Crowd

20161212 holiday punch vicky wasik 3

I love cocktail bars because they make fancy drinking easy: Each individual order is painstakingly prepared, shaken or stirred as needed, poured into its own special glass. When the party's at my house, though, I tend to get a little flustered. There's a cheese plate to assemble, and I have to find the gravy boat, and the recycling needs taking out, and can someone please answer the door?

20161212 holiday punch vicky wasik 1

Made-to-order cocktails are not for the anxious host.

But that doesn't mean you can't make high-level cocktails when you're entertaining at home. You just need the right recipe, one that tastes fancy but is easily made in a big batch for a crowd. The Isla Bonita—a fizzy pineapple punch created by bartender Laura Newman at Mother of Pearl in New York, inspired by her recent trip to Puerto Rico—does the trick nicely. "A lot of holiday drinks are heavy or rich (think eggnog, hot chocolate, et cetera)," says Newman, "and I wanted to make something that was light, fun, and festive without weighing you down."

You start by simmering a quick simple syrup with two split vanilla beans, which contribute a heady aroma that seems to draw the sweetness of a ripe pineapple forward; it makes the whole thing taste a little luxurious. The vanilla syrup takes just a few minutes on the stovetop and can be prepared several days before your party. "Vanilla and pineapple are a classic tiki flavor pairing," notes Newman, who says she loves "how the baking spice notes of the vanilla syrup accentuate the darker, more robust fruity flavors of the pineapple juice."

You'll want to do a little ice inventory the night before: If you have an ample supply of ice cubes and a pitcher they'll fit in, you're good to go, though you can also make a pretty ice block in a Tupperware container or cake pan, decorating it with lime wheels if desired. Just make sure you have a serving vessel that can hold your ice, plus about two quarts of liquid.

Then there's the question of the pineapple. Sadly, canned juice won't do, since it tends to taste sharp and metallic when mixed. Instead, grab a couple of ripe, sweet-smelling fresh pineapples and cut them up (you don't need to go full badass here—regular cubes will do). If you don't have a juicer, there are a few other options. The easiest is to throw the pineapple chunks in a blender or food processor, then strain to remove any fibers. You can also go at them by hand with a muddler, if you're looking for a real workout.

Up to two hours before your guests arrive, you'll muddle some fresh mint in the vanilla syrup to release the herb's fragrant oils, then add your pineapple juice, white rum, and tart fresh lime juice. Give it a stir, then strain it into your serving vessel, or a resealable container if you'd prefer to stash it in the fridge awhile.

When your guests show up, the final steps will be painless: Add your ice and stirred cocktail mix to your punch bowl or pitcher. Pour in the bubbly, and serve the drink in ice-filled glasses. Be sure to pour one for yourself, too—when the hard work of making a festive drink is behind you, you'll have no reason not to relax and enjoy.

20161212 holiday punch vicky wasik 2


  • For the Vanilla Simple Syrup:
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) water
  • 2/3 cup (130g) sugar
  • 2 vanilla bean pods, split, seeds scraped
  • For the Punch:
  • 80 fresh mint leaves (from 2 to 3 large bunches)
  • 3/4 cup Vanilla Simple Syrup (6 ounces; 180ml)
  • 9 ounces (270ml) freshly squeezed pineapple juice (from about 2 medium ripe pineapples)
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed juice (6 ounces; 180ml) from about 6 limes
  • 2 1/4 cups white rum (18 ounces; 540ml), such as Don Q Cristal
  • 1 1/2 cups chilled dry sparkling wine (12 ounces; 360ml)
  • Lime wheels, mint leaves, and large ice block or large ice cubes, for garnish



  1. Make the Ice: At least 5 hours before you plan to serve the punch, freeze ice in large-cube trays or a large sealable container that can fit inside your serving vessel. If desired, line bottom of container with thinly sliced lime wheels before freezing.
  2. For the Vanilla Simple Syrup: Combine water and sugar in a saucepan with vanilla pods and seeds. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Fine-strain into a resealable container, discarding pods. Syrup can be refrigerated up to 1 week.
  3. For the Punch: Add mint and Vanilla Simple Syrup to a large measuring cup or bowl with a pour spout. Muddle gently to bruise mint and release flavor. Add pineapple juice, lime juice, and rum, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into serving vessel. Punch can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 hours at this point, or you can proceed immediately to step 4.
  4. When ready to serve, stir again, then add chilled sparkling wine and ice block or large cubes. Garnish bowl with lime wheels and mint leaves and ladle punch into ice-filled glasses.






Cocktail Overhaul: A Revamped Grasshopper


The Grasshopper cocktail is a sweet green-colored after dinner drink. The original concoction called for green crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and cream or half and half. This green monster practically screams out for a remake.

The Grasshopper cocktail might sound like a classic of the bright-colored-'tini age, but according to cocktail lore, it was actually created back in 1919 by Philbert Guichet, the owner of Tujaque's in New Orleans, for a cocktail contest in New York. The green drink reportedly took home the second place prize. (No one seems to know what won the gold medal.) But the drink remained in relative obscurity for sometime before gaining popularity throughout the American South during the 1950s and 60s.

The base flavors of the Grasshopper, mint and chocolate, are a classic (and delicious) combination, but in revamping the cocktail, I wanted to move away from cheap and artificial tasting liqueurs. One option is to replace them with the high-quality creme de menthe and creme de cacao from Tempus Fugit, but I wanted to emphasize the fresh flavor of real mint leaves.

With Momofuku's revolutionary cereal milk in mind, I decided to infuse half and half with fresh mint to get a bright, authentic flavor. I tried two methods: in one version, I heated the milk to create the infusion, and in the other, I infused the mint into the milk in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The fridge version resulted in a lighter but fresher flavor.

The original Grasshopper has no base spirit, but something was needed to give it some backbone and structure in addition to the fresh mint and chocolate flavor. I turned to two spirits that are perfect for after dinner sipping: aged rum and cognac. These robust spirits add the body and strength necessary to keep the drink in balance. 


  • For the Mint Cream:
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup picked and washed mint leaves
  • For the Cocktail:
  • 1 1/4 ounces mint cream
  • 1 ounce cognac
  • 1 ounce aged rum
  • 1/2 ounce creme de cacao, such as Tempus Fugit
  • 2 dashes mint bitters, such as Fee Bros.
  • 2 dashes chocolate or mole bitters
  • 2 sprigs mint (for garnish)


  1. For the Mint Cream: Combine mint and half and half in a sealed container. Transfer to refrigerator and allow to infuse for 2 days. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard mint.

  2. For the Cocktail: Combine mint cream, cognac, rum, creme de cacao, mint bitters, and chocolate bitters in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, shake until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Garnish with 2 sprigs of mint.




This Make-Ahead Fizzy Strawberry Pisco Punch

Strawberry Pisco Punch20160714 pisco strawberry punch vicky wasik 1

I like to simplify. I like to make dinner from what I've got in the pantry, and make cocktails with the bottles in my liquor cabinet. I'm loath to tell you to buy something new just to make a drink...but that's exactly what I'm going to do. I promise you, this punch is worth it.

Designed by Zac Overman of Seattle's Sitka & Spruce, this is the perfect prep-ahead summer party drink. Like no other punch I've tried before, it captures the juicy, complex flavor of a ripe strawberry by bolstering that flavor with a few special ingredients. It starts with the berries, of course, plus fresh thyme, tart lemon, and fizzy, bright sparkling wine.

The key addition is a bittersweet, fortified wine–based aperitif called Bonal. As Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters and the upcoming Amaro, wrote me in a recent email, this stuff is remarkably flavorful and complex: "What I love about amaro and spirits like Bonal—with its double-hit of woody bitterness from cinchona and gentian—is that each bottle can play well as a modifier or base in a cocktail, but on their own over ice, the balance of spirit, herbs, sweetener, and bitterness packs as much complexity in the glass as a well-made cocktail."

Bonal is earthy and herbal, with vivid plummy flavors: "The deep, rich fruit ties in the strawberry flavor" in this drink, notes Overman. "And the herbal components blend really well with the thyme." If you're a fan of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, you'll like Bonal, too; they have a lot in common, though Bonal is a bit lighter and a bit more bitter. "Bonal actually dries the drink out and keeps it from becoming too sweet," explains Overman.

 20160714 pisco strawberry punch vicky wasik 2

The last key ingredient—the spirit base—is a bit more flexible. At Sitka & Spruce, the punch is made with Vitis Pinot Gris Aguardiente, a grape brandy made in the pisco style by a Chilean-born distiller in Woodinville, Washington. (It can't be called pisco, since it's not made in Chile or Peru.) Feel free to track it down, but Overman says you can use pisco instead; BarSol Primero Quebranta works wonderfully.

You'll start by whipping up an easy, fantastically aromatic berry syrup, simmering quartered strawberries and thyme together with water and sugar. This part can be done up to a week in advance, and you can use the leftover syrup to add flavor to seltzer for any non-tippling guests.

You'll add a bit of the strawberry syrup to a mix of pisco, Bonal, and lemon; throw it in the fridge until you're ready to go, or put this punch mix in a pitcher and serve immediately. Each glass gets filled with ice, then a few ounces of sparkling wine and the punch mix. You might want to keep a second batch on hand—this stuff has a way of disappearing quickly.


  • For the Strawberry-Thyme Syrup:
  • 1 cup (240ml) water
  • 1 cup (195g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup quartered strawberries (about 5 to 6 small berries; 65g)
  • 7 sprigs fresh thyme
  • For the Punch Mix:
  • 4 ounces (120ml) Strawberry-Thyme Syrup
  • 6 ounces (180ml) pisco (such as Barsol)
  • 6 ounces (180ml) Bonal
  • 6 ounces (180ml) fresh juice from 4 lemons
  • To Serve:
  • 1 (750ml) bottle dry sparkling wine, chilled


1. For the Strawberry-Thyme Syrup: Add water, sugar, strawberries, and thyme to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer to remove solids. Let cool before using. Syrup can be refrigerated up to 1 week.

2. For the Punch Mix: Combine Strawberry-Thyme Syrup, pisco, Bonal, and lemon in a small lidded pitcher or quart-size Mason jar. (You will have 22 ounces of the punch mix.) Stir to combine. At this point, mix can be used immediately or covered and refrigerated up to 10 hours. Extra Strawberry-Thyme Syrup can be served with seltzer for a nonalcoholic drink.

3. To Serve: Fill each Collins glass with ice. Add 3 ounces sparkling wine and 2 3/4 ounces punch mix to each glass and stir gently. Serve immediately.

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