Guilt Free Cocktail: Limoncello Mint Sorbet

The beginning of the school year historically seems to bring out the humidity in Iowa weather.  This week is projected to be no exception.  This time of the year is perfect for a cool cocktail, and one with guilt free properties is especially delightful.  Fresh fruit adds a seasonal touch to this refreshing drink.

Limoncello Mint Sorbet

2  cups water

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 cup limoncello

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6 large lemons)

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

2 cups blackberries

Lemon slices (optional)

* Combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; add lemon juice and mint. Cover and chill.

*Strain juice mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm. Serve with blackberries; garnish with lemon slices, if desired.

* If you don’t want to use the limoncello, you can substitute 1/2 cup of prepared lemonade.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:  184 CALORIES, 0.2 G FAT, 0.6 G PROTEIN, 34.3 G CARBS, 2 G FIBER

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El Presidente

El Presidente is a Cuban cocktail that originated in Havana in the 1920s.  It can be translated to a barrel-aged cocktail with a few adjustments to the original recipe as well.

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El Presidente

1.5 ounces light rum

0.75 ounce dry vermouth

2 dashes Curacao

1 dash grenadine

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into cocktail glass.

Aged El Presidente

18.5 ounces of gold rum

9 ounces of dry vermouth

3 ounces of Grand Marnier

2 ounces of grenadine

1-liter oak barrel

(For Serving:  Ice and Orange Twists)

* If the barrel is new and dry inside, fill it with water and let stand until watertight (about 24 hours) and drain.

* Fill the barrel with all of the liquid ingredients needed for your cocktail, using a funnel.

* Age the cocktail until it has taken on a softer, rounded but not overly oaky flavor (about 1 month).  Taste a sample once a week to ensure that you are not letting it age too long.

* Strain the cocktail through a coffee filter-lined funnel into a glass container.

* If you age a new cocktail in the barrel after a previous one, it may pick up on some of the flavor from the first cocktail aged in the barrel.  This can be a fun thing to play around with while aging drinks!

* Store until you are able to enjoy!

* To serve, pour 3 ounces into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and stir until chilled.  Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass and serve with an orange twist.

Manhattan

The Manhattan is a classic and popular drink concocted with whiskey and sweet vermouth.  Most people prefer it stirred, but some like it shaken.  This drink reminds me of my grandma as it was her cocktail of choice at more fancy events. She liked hers on the rocks and mixed strong. She only drank one by the time I was old enough to remember her with this drink, but I imagine in her prime she would enjoy a few more on an evening out with my grandpa!  The Manhattan can be translated to a barrel-aged cocktail with a few adjustments to the original recipe as well.

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Manhattan

1 1/2 ounces rye or blended whiskey

3/4 ounce sweet vermouth

1 dash aromatic bitters

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into cocktail glass.  Decorate with cocktail cherry or twist of lemon.

Aged White Manhattan

16 ounces unaged white whiskey

16 ounces white vermouth

1/2 ounce orange bitters

1-liter oak barrel

(For Serving:  Ice and Lemon Twists)

* If the barrel is new and dry inside, fill it with water and let stand until watertight (about 24 hours) and drain.

* Fill the barrel with all of the liquid ingredients needed for your cocktail, using a funnel.

* Age the cocktail until it has taken on a softer, rounded but not overly oaky flavor (about 1 month).  Taste a sample once a week to ensure that you are not letting it age too long.

* Strain the cocktail through a coffee filter-lined funnel into a glass container.

* If you age a new cocktail in the barrel after a previous one, it may pick up on some of the flavor from the first cocktail aged in the barrel.  This can be a fun thing to play around with while aging drinks!

* Store until you are able to enjoy!

* To serve, pour 3 ounces into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and stir until chilled.  Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass and serve with a lemon twist.

Spicy Pineapple Margarita

With Cinco de Mayo fast approaching, I am on the lookout for some cocktail recipes to fully celebrate.  I am always open to variations of the classic margarita, and this spicy pineapple version sounds interesting.

The recipe below is shared from Hot Sauce! by Jennifer Trainer Thompson.

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Spicy Pineapple Margarita

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground chile powder

1 lime wedge

8 ounces tequila blanco

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup pineapple juice

2 ounces Cointreau

1 teaspoon hot sauce

* Mix the salt and chile powder on a small plate.  Rub the rims of 4 glasses with the lime wedge, then dip the rims in the salt mixture to coat.

* Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add all of the remaining ingredients.

* Shake vigorously, then strain into glasses.

* Serve immediately.

Coconut Horchata

Hello May! With all of the awful weather we have been having here recently, I am looking forward to some nice temperatures that are conducive to sitting outside with a cocktail. With Cinco de Mayo fast approaching, I am on the lookout for some cocktail recipes to fully celebrate.  I have already shared my fresh, homemade margarita recipe, which is always a fabulous option.

Recently, horchata drinks have been gaining popularity.  I first tried RumChata a few years ago, which tastes like the leftover milk in Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Who can find fault with that?  I tried Maya Horchata at Minhas Distillery this past weekend and the use of real Wisconsin dairy cream made their version of the drink delightfully decadent.

There is still enough time to purchase all of the ingredients needed to make your own version of the horchata drink before Cinco de Mayo. The following recipe for Coconut Horchata is from Dos Caminos Mexican Street Food by Ivy Stark with Joanna Pruess.

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Coconut Horchata

2 2/3 cups uncooked rice, finely ground in a spice grinder

1 teaspoon crumbled Mexican cinnamon (canela), plus 4 pieces for garnish

4 cups hot water

2 cups cold water

15 blanched almonds, lightly toasted and finely ground

1 (13 ounce) can coconut milk

1 cup sugar

1 zest of lime, cut into long, 1/2 inch wide strips

4 ounces of rum

ice cubes

6-8 fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

*One day in advance, combine the rice, cinnamon, and 4 cups of hot water in a bowl.  Cool, cover and refrigerate.

* The following day, stir in ground almonds and coconut milk into the rice.

* Working in batches, add the rice mixture to the jar of an electric blender and process until very smooth.

* Strain through a medium-size strainer and pour into a pitcher.

* In a saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, the remaining cup of cold water and lime zest.

* Cook until the sugar is just dissolved, stirring continuously.

* Let the mixture cool, remove the lime zest, pour the liquid into the pitcher and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

* Stir well and pour over ice cubes into tall glasses.

* Add an ounce of rum to each glass before adding the horchata.  Garnish with a mint sprig and a piece of cinnamon.