Palomas are one of the simple pleasures in life. Tequila and grapefruit soda were meant to be combined in the same glass and sipped in the sun on a hot day or enjoyed on a long dinner. Put simply: these are refreshing AFs. Add in some of the Summer Farmer's Market Bounty and you get a Tiered Paloma. This strawberry and fennel paloma is the perfect balance between tangy, sweet and savory with a hint of salinity on the savory edge. I made a pitcher recently and there was not a drop left at the end of the evening (let's just say I looked kinda ridiculous trying to lick the last bit off the pitcher, but totally worth it!)
I recently received a CSA box of Green thumb farms through CUESA at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. It was full of green vegetables and they also had the first harvest of strawberries for sale at the stall. The fennel in the box was so fragrant and beautiful, I just knew I had to use it in a cocktail! Combined with bitter celery it adds a nice crisp and savory flavor that I love in a cocktail and ripe strawberries put the Strawberry Fennel Paloma on top. I love summer cocktails!Impression
A sweet and savory Paloma using the farmer's market summer bounty of crisp fennel and juicy strawberries.
- 1 medium strawberry, sliced and mashed
- 20g fennel, a few slices
- 2 1/4 ounces blanco tequila, I used Forteleza
- 1 ounce grapefruit
- 1/4 ounce 2: 1 simple syrup
- 3 bitter celery dashes
- 1 ounce carbonated water
- garnish: grapefruit slice, fennel frond, salt of course
- Wet the rim of a Collins glass with water or a grapefruit slice. Dip in salt to coat.
- Mix the strawberry and fennel well in a shaker.
- Add remaining ingredients except sparkling water and shake with ice.
- Filter twice in a Collins glass with ice. Garnish with sparkling water.
- Garnish with a grapefruit slice and a fennel frond.
- I'd rather add simple syrup, fresh grapefruit, and sparkling water rather than grapefruit soda for a juicier Paloma. But if you have grapefruit soda on hand and you prefer that, you can substitute these ingredients in the recipe for 3-4 oz of grapefruit soda.
A little time put into preparation makes for an enjoyable evening. Drinking cocktails should be a fun and relaxing experience, so take a while to think about ingredients in advance, to avoid any rushing around last minute.
One of the foundations of many cocktails is sugar syrup. This can be prepared in advance. Here’s my tip for easy to prepare simple syrup : Add 200 gm white sugar to 200 ml boiling water. Stir till sugar is dissolved, and liquid is clear. Allow to cool then bottle
If you mix lemon juice 50 : 50 with simple syrup, you should have a solid mid-line sweet-sour balance. But remember, every palate is different. to find your own point of balance, mix 15ml fresh lemon juice with 15ml simple syrup, and then dilute the mix with up to 90ml water. Congratulations, you’ve just made fresh lemonade ! If this tastes too sweet or too sour, adjust by adding a little more citrus or syrup. Using this method of calibration, you can adjust any petit cocktail recipe to suit your own palate.
Ice is the single most over-looked ingredient at any home bar - you’ll be surprised how much you can go through. Cocktails need ice like baking needs ovens. If popping to the boutiques for ice isn’t an option right now, keeping a freezer bag topped up with ice will ensure you don’t run out unexpectedly. For best quality home-made ice, try using a silicone ice tray with a lid, to prevent your ice from absorbing unpleasant odours. And wash your ice tray after each use.
Where possible always go for de haute gamme spirits, the freshest herbs, and the best juices you can get your hands on. For instance, the taste difference between cheap juice and pressed juice is more than worth the small extra expense.
Try to use glassware appropriate to your drinks. It’s entirely possible to drink a martini from an old coffee mug, but that misses the point of drinking a martini !
If you can make a Whiskey Sour, you can make a Daiquiri. If you make a mean Negroni, you can riff on a Boulevardier. Once you’ve mastered the Manhattan, have some fun in Brooklyn on your way to Martinez. Cocktails exist in family trees. Once you are comfortable the basics of each category the world is your oyster !
You can pre-mix punches in advance - an old trick from the godfathers of bartending in the 19th century. You can bottle punch and store it in the fridge, ready to use on the day, or later that week. If done properly, quality and consistency are assured. If your punch has a fizzy ingredient, such as prosecco, only add this your glass just before serving.
If you follow the Punch Ratio, you can’t go far wrong : 1 part sour ( citrus ) 2 parts sweet ( simple syrup ) 3 parts strong ( spirit ) 4 parts weak ( juices etc ) And don’t shy away from warm spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and mace, to make that punch really sing. Don’t have those spices to hand ? No problem, a few dashes of Angostura bitters will do the trick.
We all have a few unloved ingredients lying around that need using up. For instance, that last bit of red wine in the bottle ? Try drizzling it over your Whisky Sour, and voila, you’ve got yourself a delicious New York Sour ! Do you have some nice but neglected spice mix in the kitchen ? Try mixing a teaspoon or two into your simple syrup as it cools to give your next petit cocktail an added dimension. Seasonal fresh herbs make a wonderful aromatic cocktail garnish.
So now, you’ve hit your stride and you’re getting creative in your home bar. Great ! Our top tip for petit cocktail creation ? Write down the exact specifications as you are making it. It’s not always easy to perfectly recall the recipe for that killer cocktail the next day !
If all this sounds like a bit of a chore, then keep an eye open for delivery services available from many local petit cocktail parcs. After all, with the finer things in life, it’s nice to sit back, relax and let the professionals do all the work.