Keeping It Simple
A Reengineered Sea Breeze and Madras
I have many favorite drinks and cocktails I love to sip on and entertain with during the northern summer months.
Peaches, cherries and berries abound and are wonderful ingredients in numerous drinks and mix with nearly every spirit available. Most of these drinks are not difficult, but they generally have some lengthy prep involved. Peach infused bourbon lemonades with tart cherries, Bitter Lemon Sodas with gin, White Sangria with summer fruits, cognac, curaçao and white Spanish wines among many others.
But one of my favorite ones for pure, simple refreshment is a re-engineered take on a Sea Breeze that anyone can make and take to parties, picnics, BBQs, the pool or beach. In reality this is a blend of Madras and Sea Breeze cocktails, but nothing like most people have ever had.
It doesn’t have a laundry list of ingredients. It doesn’t take a lot of prep work or lengthy infusions. It can be made on the fly and will please everyone and anyone.
The key to this drink is using fresh squeezed citrus. The difference between fresh grapefruit and orange juice and the refrigerator carton counterparts that say “fresh” is measured in light years. The boxed stuff doesn’t taste, smell or feel like the real stuff. They are thick, sour, bitter, and murky.They aren't worth drinking in any manner that I can think of.
The real stuff is refreshing, naturally sweet but not cloying or syrupy. They are wonderfully aromatic and such a pleasure to drink. Even if the summer months are not the high season for citrus in the U.S., you can still get delicious grapefruits and oranges.
By simply using fresh orange juice and fresh grapefruit juice you can make a seemingly ordinary vodka drink into something people will remember. With no added sugar.
|Oranges and Grapefruits|
Citrus Juice Mix
4 Parts Orange Juice
2 Parts Grapefruit Juice
1 Part Cranberry Juice
All citrus juice MUST be fresh squeezed and strained. Use juice style oranges (Valencia etc.). They are made for juicing and give more juice than navel oranges. I prefer ruby red grapefruit, but white grapefruit will work too.
I generally make at least a few quarts of this at one time. If you are going to make it, you might as well make a lot of it. It is great for breakfast if you don’t use it all in your poolside drinks.
If you feel so inclined you can make your own cranberry juice by simmering fresh cranberries with some sugar and a little water, puree and then strain. But I find this is not nearly as important as the fresh citrus, so a good quality store bought cranberry juice works fine here. I try to think in terms of "value added" when deciding such things. Making fresh OJ has a lot of value added to your small amount of labor. Making cranberry juice doesn't have nearly the value added. I think the same way with food and drink.
The base spirit I suggest is a good quality PLAIN vodka, but I really love a good London Dry gin in this as well. Tequila or rum would work beautifully too. Try to avoid flavored vodkas here. I believe they diminish the natural freshness of drinks like this.
|By the Pool|
KEY WEST SEA BREEZE
2 oz Absolut Vodka
4 oz Citrus Juice Blend
16 oz Cup or Glass
No garnish needed
Fill glass with ice. Add vodka and top with citrus juice blend. Stir.
|In a proper glass|
If you feel so inclined again, I suggest both grapefruit and orange peel for garnish. You can make the garnishes ahead of time by making the peels from the citrus before you juice them and keeping them in a container in the fridge. Wash the fruit before making the peels.
For best results, chill the juice before hand. It isn’t as shocking to your ice, especially on a hot day. Keep it in your cooler filled with ice or in the refrigerator at home.
This recipe is just a guide. You can use more or less vodka and the amount of juice is really what fits in the glass after adding your spirits. Use your best judgment and your own taste.