Cocktails as an art form | VailDaily.com
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Cocktails as an art form

AE Summer Drinks PU 6-23-07
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One shattered blender, a little more than an hour, and a large mess later, four delectable drinks were created last week at The Lift Cafe in Minturn during a mixology class with Adeena Sussman.

A freelance food writer from New York City, Sussman teamed up with the Vail Symposium to teach 16 people how to make summer drinks. She called the class “Summer Refreshers: Pitcher Drinks and Punch for Easy Entertaining.”

“We want you all good and drunk before 7 o’clock,” Sussman joked at the beginning of the class. Fraidy Aber, executive director of the Vail Symposium, is a longtime friend of Sussman.



Sussman showed how to make simple syrups and used mostly fresh produce ” preferably organic ” in the recipes. The alcohol, rather than top-shelf, expensive liquor, is moderately priced and can be found in most liquor stores throughout the Vail Valley.

“I am teaching you my ways of inebriation,” Sussman said. Here are her recipes:



Makes 6 drinks

(Great with Asian food)

1 large English cucumber



1/2 cup water

1 bunch basil leaves

750 milliliter bottle of gin

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

1/3 cup mint syrup

Splash of seltzer water

Two days prior:

Slide clean basil leaves into gin bottle and refrigerate.

Day of…

Slice six thin rounds from the end of a clean cucumber. Cut a half-inch notch into each round and reserve for garnish. Peal the remainder of the cucumber and slice into 1-inch pieces. Place in blender with water. Blend until totally liquefied. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Combine cucumber “mixture,” gin, lime juice and mint syrup in a pitcher. Add all but six cucumber rounds, plus one large sprig of basil and mint. Fill 6 glasses with ice and divide mixture evenly. If desired, top with a splash of seltzer. Garnish with a cucumber slice, and mint or basil. Add mint syrup to taste.

Makes about 2 cups syrup

1 large bunch of mint

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer vigorously for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Strain. For stronger mint flavor, let mint steep in sugar longer before straining.

Makes six drinks

(great with Indian food)

1/2 spiced chai syrup

2 cups chilled mango juice

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 cup rum (preferably Goslings Black Seal Rum)

Mango wedges and mint springs for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and let favors meld in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Garnish with mint sprig and mango wedge.

Makes about 2 cups of syrup

2 cups light brown sugar

11/2 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

1 chai tea bag

10 peppercorns

2 whole nutmeg

1 star anise

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer vigorously for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Strain. For stronger chai flavor, use an additional tea bag and let spices and tea bag steep in sugar longer before straining.

Makes 5 drinks

(Great with grilled food)

1/2 cup ginger syrup

1 cup chilled vodka (preferably Smirnoff)

2 cups chilled pineapple juice

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 cup chilled seltzer

Pineapple wedges for garnish

Combine ginger syrup, vodka, pineapple juice and lime juice in a pitcher. Let meld in refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes. Top each glass with _ cup seltzer. Garnish with pineapple wedges.

Note: May need to add more syrup to taste the ginger

Makes about 2 cups of syrup

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup fresh chopped ginger

Combine in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer vigorously for 3-4 minutes. Remove from head and cool completely. Strain. For stronger ginger flavor, let ginger steep in sugar longer before straining.

Makes 16 drinks

1 8-10 lb. watermelon

2 cups blueberry syrup

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon angostura bitters

3 cups seltzer or ginger ale

1/2 cup blueberries

4 mint springs

Cut away rind from watermelon and cut fruit into 1 inch cubes to make about 8 cups. Place watermelon in colander and gently stir until juice is released, about 1.5-2 cups juice. Reserve watermelon juice. Place melon in a freezer bag or on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 20 minutes. Combine blueberry syrup, lemon and lime juice, vanilla, bitters and reserved watermelon juice. Place mixture in refrigerator until melon is frozen. One frozen, place in punch bowl with blueberries and mint. Add juice mixture and stir. Add seltzer.

Makes about 2 cups of syrup

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil and add berries. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Push mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing berries to release the juice. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Discard blueberries. Refrigerate. Keeps for 2 weeks.


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