My whole happy hour emphasis these days is on healthy cocktails. Whenever possible I try to use fresh and organic produce, healthier* sweeteners, garden grown herbal elements and Earth friendly ingredients.
For Earth Day I have listed a few of my favorites below, trying to cover a number of flavors and spirits, but they only cover a small percentage of the original cocktails I've created to be planet and people healthy that are available on my site here. Feel free to check out my cocktail lists to the left and use my search bar for your favorite spirits and flavors for more recipes.
How to Drink Earth Friendly at Happy Hour
Spirits themselves are Earth friendly because fermentation is a natural process but there are also numerous commercial spirit brands out there whose products are organic and planet friendly. You can buy any neutral organic spirit and infuse them yourself with your own fresh organic herbs, fruits and vegetables. Make your own Homemade Liqueurs with organic produce, start a small organic herb garden, visit your local farmer's markets for organically grown produce. You can use local honeys for sweeteners and even create your own organic fruit based simple syrups and mixers as well. Even tonic water and grenadine can be made Earth friendly by making Homemade Pomegranate Syrup and why not dump those chemical, GMO laden bottled cherries for clean and delicious Homemade Maraschino or Bourbon Cherries?
I encourage you to be creative at happy hour and look for ways to make the Earth happy as well when mixing your cocktails!
Happy Earth Day and Here's to an Earth Friendly and Healthy Happy Hour!
* Yes, I use sugar, it's one of the vital elements to a balanced cocktail BUT cane sugar is NOT by nature unhealthy, it's the AMOUNT of sugars and corn syrup, ad nauseum, that is consumed that is the culprit to a healthy diet. Balance is the key, to a healthy life and a healthy Earth.
I like to think of this cocktail as a chocolate cherry Boulevardier or, perhaps closer, a Kentucky Royale but with fresh cherries instead of Cherry Heering. Basically it was something I tossed together the other night when I was goofing around with my Templeton Rye and my Cinzano Rosso trying to come up with a new cocktail. At the last minute I added some orange elements with a drop of orange bitters and an orange twist because I wanted a bit of citrus hitting my nose with the chocolate and cherries.
That was a great last minute addition, the mint flavored green tea went wonderfully with the gin I chose, Daffy's Gin, which has strong mint and lemon notes and, with the use of lemon in place of the typical G&T lime, I ended up with a bright and thirst-quenching drink.
There's something about tea and gin and tonic, it's so perfectly British. It's also a great cocktail combination.
Add the mint green tea infused gin to a highball glass filled with ice. Squeeze in the lemon wedges, then drop the wedges in the drink. Add the Lemon Créme Honey Syrup and stir. Top off with the tonuc, stir again, garnish and serve.
While making a hibiscus tea infused gin for my Wild Hibiscus Gin & Tonic I also spied my butterfly pea flower tea in the cupboard and decided to add that to my tea infused gin session. Butterfly pea flowers are one of nature's few naturally blue foods. They're also a little magic because when you add something acidic to blue pea flower teas or essences, they will turn purple in front of your eyes. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity for a color changing gin and tonic.
I also decided to add a bit of elderflower liqueur to amp up the elderflower floral notes of the Hendrick's Gin and to complement the pea flower, then I used a light lavender honey simple syrup to sweeten the drink. The final cocktail was a gorgeous, deep blue violet/violet cocktail that tasted like a floral, lightly alcoholic lemonade. It was amazingly refreshing and tasted like spring.
BUTTERFLY PEA FLOWER
GIN & TONIC
1-1/2 Oz. Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Infused Hendrick's Gin (Instructions Below*)
* Preparation: An hour or two before serving your cocktails add one tea bag of Wild Hibiscus Butterfly Pea Flower Tea for every one and a half ounces of gin and allow to infuse, the longer the infusion, the stronger the flavor. Strain and set aside for the cocktails.
Add the pea flower tea infused gin, the lavender honey syrup and the elderflower liqueur to a highball glass filled with ice. Top off with tonic water and stir. Slowly squeeze then drop in the lime quarters, the drink will turn from bright blue to deep purple just as you serve it.
Tea infused gin is a thing lately and, for Gin & Tonic Day (April 9th), I went a little wild with one of my favorite teas and did a Wild Hibiscus Tea infused gin. It was easy to infuse the gin, only took a few hours and I got a fragrant, rich, red colored hibiscus gin for my G&T which I finished off with Wild Hibiscus Rose Syrup and a wild hibiscus garnish.
It was a gorgeous, deep magenta cocktail with a tart, citrus and floral taste from the hibiscus rose syrup and fresh limes. Pretty as heck and a great way to bling up a classic gin and tonic, if I do say so myself.
* Preparation: An hour or two before serving your cocktails add one tea bag of Wild Hibiscus Tea for every one and a half ounces of gin and allow to infuse. Strain and set aside for the cocktails.
For each Cocktail:
Add the wild hibiscus infused gin to a chilled glass filled with ice. Squeeze in lime wedges to taste, then drop the limes in the drink. Add Wild Hibiscus Rose Syrup to taste, stir then top off with the Fever Tree Tonic Water. Garnish with a wild hibiscus flower and serve.
National, International and/or World Gin and Tonic Day is April 9th.
Spring is grapefruit season here in Tucson and my neighbors are always generous with their harvest. Sometimes a little too generous* and I have to find ways to use all the beautiful citrus I'm gifted with. My answer is usually to head over to the bar, grab the juicer and serve those free grapefruit right back to my neighbors at happy hour.
When I only have one or two grapefruit I'll serve up my Pink Grapefruit Martini, but when I'm blessed with a multitude of grapefruit to take advantage of then a party and a tall drink is called for. A classic Paloma, a Greyhound or a Salty Dog are all good solutions to using up grapefruit gifted by the dozen. The Paloma is made with tequila, the Greyhound was originally made with gin and I was in more of a vodka mood so I went with an adaptation of both the Greyhound and Salty Dog. As a nod to spring I added a little floral twist to the classic recipes.
Whenever you have fresh grapefruit, you need to make this cocktail. It's comparatively light in alcohol, healthy and very refreshing when temperatures and thirsts are high.
Fill shaker with ice then add the vodka, elderflower liqueur and fresh grapefruit juice.
Shake until chilled, strain into the glass, garnish with the grapefruit wedge, add a straw and serve.
* I usually tell people I don't like grapefruit, but the truth is grapefruit doesn't like me. I actually love fresh grapefruit, but it can be very hard on my stomach unless it's very sweet and even then I always add a pinch of salt and extra sweeteners to ease the tartness. Canned grapefruit is always too acidic and never passes my doorstep so don't ever drop in at happy hour for a Salty Dog or Greyhound*** when grapefruit aren't in season.
*** What's the difference between a Salty Dog and a Greyhound?
The Greyhound, originally a gin cocktail, not vodka, is simply either of those spirits mixed with grapefruit juice. The Salty Dog just adds a salt rim.