The arrival of warm weather, and the ability to leave the windows and doors open, has a very distinct affect on my state of mind.
Primarily, it puts me in the mood for day drinking. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of day drinking, it’s pretty simple. You drink (alcohol) during the day, preferably outdoors. Boom. I know. Can you think of anything more wonderful?
Day drinking is something that most people consider a weekend activity, but since I work in retail I’m usually working on Saturdays. When it’s bright and pleasant outside and the rest of Brooklyn is out eating brunch and laying on blankets at the park, I’m indoors selling picnic baskets and wine thermos’, and grill tongs. Don’t shed any tears for me just yet though, I do usually have Sundays off so if the weather is just as warm and sunny, I still get one day to join in the fun.
I was lucky enough a couple weekends ago, just before that last cold snap, when the weather was just nice enough to go out and spend some quality time in our back yard. We decided to make a day of it and called some friends over, fired up the grill, and cooked up some delicious lemon herb chicken thighs (which I told you about here). Of course, I also dove head-first into the task of crafting some seriously amazing spring-time cocktails. I thought hard about what would pair well with the spring-y weather and decided strawberries, lemonade, & vodka were the just the ticket.
Our good friends Karen and Mari of Crown Street Productions wanted to join in the fun too, so they came over to bask in the sunshine with us. Since I was whipping up some cocktails, they brought along their equipment to capture the moment. They’re so much fun to work with, and the best part is that they’re complete videography geniuses. I don’t know how they do it. I’m a total awkward weirdo in real life, and they somehow manage to make me appear charming and professional!
Check out this amazing video for a complete tutorial on how to make these delicious boozey strawberry lemonades. I hope you enjoy the video as much as the cocktails!
Did that make you thirsty or what?
If you want to make this for a crowd you could easily do it in large batches by tossing the strawberries into a blender or food processor. If you went this route, I don’t think adding the extra sugar to the strawberries would be necessary. If you like the idea of a big pitcher or punch bowl with some chunks of strawberries floating around, just pulse your blender until the berries are mashed but not pulverized. If you want to serve these from a drink dispenser with a spigot or pour spout though, you’ll need to completely puree them so that none of the chunky strawberries get stuck in the spout.
Normally I’m not a big vodka drinker, and prefer my tipple to have a bit more backbone. For this drink though, I thought that the neutral flavor (or lack thereof) of vodka would let the other ingredients be the stars of the show. To add an extra hint of citrusy goodness, I also added just a bit of orange liqueur. Any orange liqueur will do just fine, but I think the mix of bitter orange and cognac in Grand Marnier gives this cocktail the cojones that the vodka’s missing.
The combination of sweet tangy lemonade, ripe red strawberries, orange liqueur, and vodka is really phenomenal. There’s just enough alcohol to make you feel gooood without tasting too strong. Muddling the strawberries with a bit of sugar helps them to give off their juices and flavor the drink without turning to total mush. This way you get some little chunky bits of juicy fresh berries floating around in your drink, soaking up all the boozey goodness. All stirred together in a tall glass with plenty of ice, it tastes like you’re sipping on springtime.
You may have have noticed that I served these drinks in quilted mason jars. I know they’re really trendy right now, but before you roll your eyes, here’s the thing. Not only are they cute and homey, but they’re also made of really sturdy glass and they’re really affordable! You can take them outside for your next bbq because if they break they’re easily replaced, and they’re only about $2 each! The 12 oz quilted jars are tall and skinny so they also make great highball glasses in a pinch. Russell and I have a bunch of them because we used them as glassware at our wedding last summer!
No matter what you serve it in, this cocktail is perfect for sunny days spent with friends. Odds are that your friends will agree, so you should call them up and get to drinkin’!
Boozey Strawberry Lemonade
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 oz orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
2 oz vodka
6 oz lemonade
Roughly chop your strawberries and place into a mixing glass or cocktail glass. Top with sugar and muddle until well mashed and juicy. Top with orange liqueur and vodka and stir. Add ice, top off with lemonade and stir again. Add a lemon slice as garnish, if desired.
makes about 6 1/2 cups of lemonade
3/4 cups of sugar
5 cups of water, divided
1 cup of lemon juice
In a small saucepan make a simple syrup by bringing sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil, stirring frequently. Once all sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool. In a pitcher, combine remaining water, lemon juice, and cooled simple syrup; and stir until well mixed.