I’m one of the only people I know who adores a good Bloody Mary. By “good,” I don’t mean a can of tomato juice spiked with vodka. The best “Mary” drinks start with freshly pressed juice that’s bursting with garden-fresh flavor. When blended with the proper spices, I almost don’t even care if the booze is missing.
Which is what led me to develop this recipe for a light, alcohol-free take on a traditional Bloody Mary. A fresh puree of cucumber, celery, and tomatoes is strained and infused with brewed green tea to create a light and clear infusion rather than a gloppy ketchupy mess. Then it’s doctored up with a shot of Spiker’s Strawberry Rhubarb shrub (you’ll love how the rhubarb echoes the celery notes), wasabi, horseradish, black pepper and flake sea salt.
Although a celery stalk is the traditional garnish, I love the combination of lemony green olives and cherry tomatoes. And don’t forget the hot sauce. A few splashes at table are the perfect finishing touch.
In an article in the“Off Duty” section of the Wall Street Journal, barman Bryan Dayton pointed out, “It’s not just pregnant women and tea-totalers” who are driving the burgeoning mocktail trend. “It’s people who are health-conscious, who need to work the next day. It’s people ordering nonalcoholic beverages after two drinks because they need to stay sharp at a business dinner.”
Perhaps that’s why more and more people are discovering the versatility of our Spiker’s Shrubs. With their perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, as well as deeply concentrated fruit flavors, shrubs mix beautifully with each other as well as with bitters, tea, and high-end root beers and ginger ales. And because they have fewer calories than flavored syrups, when shrubs are used in a mocktail it is kinder to your waistline. No designated driver needed; no hangover involved.
If you haven’t already had a chance to explore the potential of a “virgin” cocktail made with Spiker’s Shrubs, pick up a bottle or two, crank up the Soda Stream, and start experimenting. The only limit is your imagination. To get you started, here’s how to tweak the ever-popular mojito to create a version that’ll take you to church (and vice-versa).
THE KEY ELEMENTS
For starters, let’s review what’s in a traditional mojito: White rum, fresh lime, fresh mint, and soda. To emulate the flavor notes that are characteristic of a good rum — namely pineapple, molasses, and almonds — our recipe includes a splash of our Spiker’s Pineapple Basil Shrub (which contributes the fruity and sweet elements of the first two items), plus a splash of Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters. (You could also use almond extract, but bitters are — in our opinion — better.)
Yesterday was so blissfully cool and clear that I totally forgot about crafting a beverage for Mocktail Monday. But last night even in the depths of sleep, I could feel the mugginess creeping back into the house. So here — a day late — is the official offering for this week’s alcohol-free sip.
Although richly flavored, this mocktail has a cool finish thanks to the addition of juniper berry and mint. These herbs give it an herbaceous frostiness which makes it ideal when you want something to take your mind off the underbelly of summer.
Picture this as something to serve at bedtime, when the mucky air is unbearable even if the A/C is blasting. Place some clear glass cups or goblets in the freezer to get frosty, then take a shower to hose off. Wrap a chunky towel around your torso, and pour the chilled cooler sans ice just before you retreat to the boudoir to read (or whatever). Ahhhh.
Whether you’re preparing for an important meeting, training for a triathlon, or maybe trying to lose weight, it’s great to have options when you’re taking a break from alcohol. That’s why we’re big advocates of starting off the week on a lighter note.
To give you a bit of help in visualizing your options sans-alcohol, we’re launching a new weekly blog feature: Mocktail Monday. Each week we’ll present a recipe for a non-alcoholic beverage with lovely flavor layers that will tantalize your tastebuds and give your liver a break from the usual. Our all-natural fruit shrub concentrates will play a key role in the ingredients list, so be sure to browse our selection, and place an online order for local pickup, or visit Leary’s Fine Wines and Spirits, Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, or Tendercrop Farm in Newbury to purchase directly.
This week’s recipe features Spiker’s Raspberry Bergamot shrub. The rich, plum-red infusion delicately scented with Italian bergamot oil creates a heavenly spritzer when blended with Japanese Sencha green tea. The unique method of cold infusing (described below) was adapted from Sebastian Beckwith’s inspirational web site and description of tea traditions. We’ll be presenting more recipes with infused tea bases as time goes by, so we highly recommend that you visit his site to become better informed about how to select and brew fine teas.
INSTRUCTIONS (Begin 30 minutes before serving)
2 tablespoons Sencha green tea leaves (you may also use gyokuro or Chinese green tea)
4 to 6 ice cubes
2 tablespoons Spiker’s Raspberry Bergamot Shrub
2 springs fresh mint
Perrier mineral water with lime (or your favorite sparkling water)
Blackberries and/or mint leaves to garnish
Prepare the Sencha Tea Infusion: In a 4 to 8 ounce glass or ceramic container, place the tea leaves and ice cubes. Pour a few tablespoons of cold, filtered water over the ice and allow the tea to infuse for at least 20 minutes.
Strain the infused liquid — you should have approximately 1/8 to 1/4 cup — and keep the remaining ice and tea leaves in the container. While you are making your cocktail, you can allow the ice to melt and create a second infusion to use in a mocktail for another day. Or freeze and save for future beverages.
Prepare the Mocktail: In a tall glass, place the mint leaves and Spiker’s Raspberry Bergamot (or try our Berry Amour shrub, a blend of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries with a touch of bitter Seville orange). Muddle the mint leaves until well bruised. Add the first tea infusion and fill the glass halfway with ice. Gently add the Perrier and a splash of Grapefruit bitters (optional), stir to incorporate the ingredients, and taste. Add extra shrub to adjust the sweetness level to suit your taste. Garnish with a few blackberries or mint leaves and serve.