Margaritas rule the summer, but as the weather turns cooler, I want something a little different. Finding a mixed drink at a restaurant can be a bit of a challenge for me. Often times the specialty cocktails are too sweet; I don’t care for sour mix or sweet juices. Some of the classic cocktails, like a Martini or Old Fashioned are a bit on the strong side. This Lemon Drop Cocktail takes the edge off of a classic Martini by adding some lemon juice and sugar, but doesn’t add a lot of the extra sweetener found in manufactured fruit juices. The key is using fresh juices, and experimenting with the amount of sugar added to please your palate.
Side note, I am completely obsessed with this little OXO Measuring Jigger. It has measurements in tablespoons and ounces printed on the inside to help get the perfect pour. Most jiggers have the 2 oz. line right at the tippy top, so it’s hard to measure and pour into a shaker, especially if you are making your second (or third) cocktail. It’s also an awesome little measuring cup for anything you need a small portion.
1 tsp. sugar
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
Juice of a lemon
In a cocktail shaker, add sugar, vodka, orange liqueur and lemon juice. Before adding ice, stir with spoon to melt sugar. Once melted, add ice and shake to blend. Strain into a martini glass, or how I like it, onto a large ice cube.
Inspired by trying some of the best margaritas in Austin, I decided to take my own spin on a classic margarita with an added twist of cucumber and lime to make this fiery but refreshing. I love all things spicy, so if you only like a little spice, I would just use one slice of jalapeno. In a cocktail shaker, muddle cucumber slices, jalapeno and honey simple syrup together. Add ice to the shaker and the remaining ingredients. Shake well and strain into a martini glass or on the rocks.
2 oz premium tequila (I used Herradura)
1 oz premium triple sec (I used Cointreau)
1 ½ oz fresh squeezed lime juice (1-2 limes)
1 tbsp honey simple syrup (see recipe)
2 slices cucumber
2 slices fresh jalapeno
I love to use honey as a sweetener, but have you ever tried to use honey in a cold drink? It becomes a hard blob that doesn’t dissolve. Making a honey simple syrup is super easy and makes it much more mixable. All you do it take equal parts honey and water and heat to combine. To make it even one step easier, I make it in a glass measuring cup that’s microwave safe. Heat for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until mixture is hot and fully blended. It can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks and stays perfectly mixable. This works perfectly to sweeten ice tea, coffee, cocktails or any recipe that needs a little sweetness.
In the words of the fabulous Ina Garten, how easy is that?