Raspberry Gimlet: A Favorite Boston Cocktail Comes Home

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Celebrating Seven Days in a Row: Here’s to You!

Raspberry GimletThe logical post today is my pesto recipe, as two of the dishes I wrote about this week—a Mediterranean grilled vegetable sandwich and grilled vegetable parmigiania—included this garlicky, flavorful spread that’s so much fun to make at home when basil is in season. I even have the photos all set. (Update: here’s that pesto recipe!)

That piece will come soon, but the truth is that I’ve been holding on to this recipe for awhile now as there was a space of time where I had an arguably gratuitous number of cocktail postings, you may recall. Really, it was just because I was celebrating the fleeting strawberry season, but even so.

Thus I decided earlier this week that a sufficient amount of time had passed since my set of ostensibly lushy posts such that today was the right occasion to feature one of my favorite drinks in Boston. It’s my way of saying to you, my readers, “Here’s to you! Thanks for reading!”

And maybe just a little bit of “Go me!,” too, if I’m completely honest with you.

But mostly you.

Backstory, Part I: My Favorite Drink in Boston

Hold on, now. Before I get to the recipe I need to tell you its origin and what makes it so very, very special.

First, it’s true that this cocktail is one of my favorite drinks in Beantown after discovering it at Tremont 647, a cute neighborhood restaurant in Boston’s South End. A solid place for eating and drinking, it was in this eatery oh-so-long-ago that I began ordering what was to become – and still remains – one of my all-time favorite drinks. Quite a simple drink, really, it’s a basic gimlet made with vodka (instead of gin) and lime juice.

So what’s the big deal, you ask?

How about it’s made with fresh raspberry-infused vodka, I answer smugly.

Surely a similar result can be enjoyed with one of the many fine raspberry-flavored vodkas out there, you question?

No. Not even close, I tell you. Not even of any kind.

Just: no.

Backstory, Part II: Vodka Infusion Experiment Goes Awry

NOW. It is for this reason that a number of years ago I tried infusing my own vodka. Sounds simple enough, right? Sure, in theory, but I had inadequately sealed my makeshift container, such that after three weeks’ time I had simply created putrid fruit while tragically sacrificing a fine bottle vodka and about $20 worth of raspberries. Therefore, this drink was limited to my outings at 647 (as it’s known; Tremont is the name of the street, you see).

Nothing wrong with that, as I always look forward to the drink when I’m there and commonly consume wine at home. But we all know I love mixology almost as much as cooking, so when raspberries started hitting the market a few weeks ago after just having mixed several fabulous strawberry cocktails, I thought, why not give my favorite drink a shot?

But I didn’t want to wait three weeks, and my raspberries didn’t want to wait that long, earlier.

Could fresh raspberries mixed into vodka achieve the same result, I asked myself?

Yes. Oh, yes. I might even venture to say that because this recipe used fresh raspberries that were particularly sweet and zingy, it was even better. 

And you should have seen the absolute joy that appeared on my face as I took my first sip and welcomed one of my favorite away-from-home cocktails into my own kitchen.

My Recipe: Enter, Fresh Raspberries

A drink this splendid deserves a special presentation.

  • 2 oz vodka
  • ~1/3 c raspberries
  • Juice from 1/2-1 lime
  • 1/2-1 oz simple syrup

Mash the raspberries in a small bowl and add the freshly squeezed lime juice. Let sit for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture (if desired), pushing on the solids to obtain about 1.5 oz liquid. Pour vodka, raspberry-lime mixture, and simple syrup into a shaker and strain into a martini glass. Taste. The flavor of this drink is outstanding but can vary depending on the sweetness of the berries and the amount of juice in the lime (sourness); you may need to adjust the ingredients to suit your palate. My recipe ended up using 1 lime and 1 oz of simple syrup. Garnish with a twist of lime on a plate decorated with mint and a few fresh raspberries.

Cocktail Postscript

Certainly I could obtain the proper vessel and infuse my own vodka this summer, yes? I’m sure I can, but who knows whether I’ll get around to it or not. Perhaps it will happen in August, once my summer class ends and before my fall class begins. In the meantime, mashed fresh fruit ends up having a similar or better result and takes but 5 minutes to prepare rather than 3 weeks.

And that’s helpful come cocktail hour.


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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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