Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Libations: Pear Sparkler




One of the many (shiteous) jobs I've had in my past is Tending of the Bar. The bartending phase occurred post-college and pre-graduate school. You know, the WTF? years. Where you don't know who you are or where you want to go or what you want to be? Yeah, those. Those are some un-comfy years, aren't they?

Bartending sucked, but it didn't suck as hard as waitressing. At least when you are tending bar, you are behind the bar, so nobody can pinch (or otherwise insult) your moneymaker. And your face-to-face exposure with obnoxious toolbags is low; you just have to deal with the regulars at the bar itself and the brief walk-ups...waitresses have entire tables of jerkwads to deal with.

I've done both and believe me, give me a spot behind the bar any day. Plus, when things are slow, you get to fool around and try to create new, interesting libations. It's not altogether unlike cooking. Or chemistry. Take some raw material, shake it up, add a hint of this and a smattering of that and...viola! Some new genius drink. Or, sometimes, a vile concoction that even Sideshow Bob wouldn't ingest. But it's good fun, really.

I've been obsessed lately with infused vodkas. We have several bars in our area that are infusing vodka with amazing things--ginger, pineapple, guava, cucumber, habanero. Vodka is cool like that--it's a canvas for whatever strong flavor you want to bring.

I'm not ambitious enough to infuse my own vodka--yet--wait until this summer for that little project, but I did see a pear-infused vodka the other day and I had to give it a spin. Hangar One is a terrific vodka. I love, love, love it. But not as much as my husband loves it. He's a sucker for the stuff.

What we love about Hangar One is that they infuse the vodka with a flavor--say, mandarin orange--and yet it isn't sweet, sugary overload like a lot of vodkas on the market. The vodka smacks of orange but is barely sweet at all. And if you don't like things very sweet (like weirdo me), you're gonna love Hangar One.

The pear vodka is crazy! It's barely sweet at all, but it's got notes of cardamom and star anise, which immediately bring heat to back of your throat, and shoot me if I'm wrong, but I swear I tasted peppercorn in that stuff. It's a spicy, heady mix. Hubs and I tried it first on the rocks and decided, Whoa! It's just too packed with flavor (for us) to drink au naturel.

So I played around and came up with a wallop of a drink. It's a drink we immediately fell in love with, because it isn't too sweet, it's got a lot of flavor, it's refreshing, and it's potent. Fair warning: one of these babies will make you bubbly. Two will make you downright frisky. Which is why we forgot to take a photo of our drinks.

But damn, they're good. I dare you to whip these up on a warm evening. I bet you're going to be dancing in the yard with the kids, blasting the Lyle Lovett or the Pink or The Shins or whatever you like, before you know it. Bring on Spring.

Saucy Spring Pear Deliciousness
serves 2

1/2 cup pear-infused vodka, such as Hangar One*
1/4 cup good vodka
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1-4 tablespoons simple syrup (to taste)**
1/2 Asian pear, peeled, grated (preferably on a microplane, over the cocktail shaker)
ice
cold Prosecco, or other sweet sparkling white wine
if desired, frozen grapes***

Freeze both vodkas and cocktail shaker, at least 2 hours. Place grated pear in shaker (if you use a microplane, grate the pear over the cocktail shaker, collecting any pear juice/pulp you can get). Add 1 tablespoon simple syrup to pears and, using the back of a spoon, muddle the pears/syrup. Add vodkas and lime juice. Add ice to the shaker and shake well. Taste. If mixture isn't at all sweet, add simple syrup, by tablespoons, until slightly sweet.

Strain mixture into two highball glasses, filled with ice and, if using, frozen grapes. Add Prosecco to fill; stir well. Garnish with lime and/or Asian pear slices.

*Hangar One Pear is a lot less sweet than other infused vodkas, so depending on the brand you use, you really may have to adjust the ratio of simple syrup. Taste! And taste again!

**Simple syrup: Boil 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar until sugar dissolves. Cool completely. Simple syrup will keep well, covered in the refrigerator, for a week.

***Frozen grapes in drinks are genius! They work like ice cubes, but don't dilute the drink! Wash some grapes, put them in a plastic freezer bag, toss them in the icebox and Hey! Cool ice "cubes" that don't dilute your drink! Because diluted drinks are castrated drinks, you know.

45 comments:

  1. Oh hell YES! I'm all about the flavoured vodka if I could afford it and my liver could handle it I would buy up everything that Absolut has to offer and then sit drinking them all day. And when I'm not drinking them I would sit stroking them.

    Noted about the grapes. Can't be doing with ice. It gets all up in your grill when you're trying to drink. I don't want to have to fight past ice cubes to get to the sweet nectar thanks.

    (This comment kind of makes me sound like I have mental problems. And drink problems.)

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  2. You had me at "vodka." Sooo gonna try this one.

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  3. I need some libations today ;-)!

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  4. I usually have a bottle of vodka chilling in the freezer...for emergencies vodka tonics, or pie dough, depending on what mood I'm in.

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  5. I'm not sure I agree with vodka fused with cucumber, or cucumber fused with vodka. The only appropriate use of a cucumber is as a weapon.

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  6. OMG, this recipe is MUCH better than the gross green shit. Yum!

    (And the "WTF years," so true...)

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  7. On a warm evening... chance would be a fine thing...

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  8. My husband just made diaquiris last night - so good. We'll have to try these!

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  9. Sounds dangerous! Might have to mix up a few for the weekend!

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  10. Oh this sounds like it would quickly become my favorite drink! If I'm able to imbibe when I'm visiting we must make these! (I may even dance with the kids afterwards...=) )

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  11. Positively devine! Looks like I have the perfect cocktail for our weekend! Thanks Kitch!

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  12. I have tried a citrus vodka but not a pear. This sounds enticing!

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  13. Yum, yum, yum. Now if we'd just get some warmth and sunshine to put me in the mood for such a refreshing beverage I'd be all set!

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  14. This makes me wish we still imbibed.

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  15. Oh man, I can totally see how just one of these would have me under the table. We tried a pink grapefruit-infused vodka (amusingly named X Rated) at the after-party to a company holiday dinner a few years ago. D mixed it with Sprite for me and I had no idea just how much of a punch was in it.

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  16. What does it say about me that the recipes of yours that I most often get around to making are the drinks . . .

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  17. I want one! Love its name too.

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  18. Too frisky to take a picture????

    This post is so clever, even for someone who doesn't drink!

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  19. Awesome sounding!! So, are you and hubs coming over for cocktails on Friday night?!?

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  20. Uhhh... YUM! It's going to be 80 and sunny this weekend and this will make me even more rosey! And yeah, I was a waitress forever and "jerkwads" is the biggest understatement of the century. I just wasn't cool enough to bartend. :)

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  21. You didn't forget to take pics of the drink... you were too busy swinging from the chandeliers! Look ma, no hands!

    "good vodka"... HA!
    jc

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  22. I haven't had a drink in 4 years.....what with being constantly pregnant and nursing and all...but that sounds gooooooooooddddd!

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  23. Shut the front door! Vodka and pear (in my opinion, the most tragically underutilized fruit)? Say no more. I must get me to the liquor store.

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  24. Oh my... Gotta love a drink recipe! Of all the things that I should have thought of FROZEN GRAPES you are a genius!

    By the way I loved bartending... but nobody ever tried to pinch my stuff

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  25. You are the devil...

    Vodka, pears, FROZEN GRAPES that don't castrate the drink, simple syrup AND guaranteed to kick me in my money-maker?

    I swear, I don't understand why you are not my neighbor?

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  26. I recently became an enormous fan of infused tequila - I can't wait to fill my cabinet with infused vodka too!!! I'm always looking for something new to sip on the porch. I'm seriously considering moving next door to you to give you someone to test all of the great ideas out on!!!!

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  27. Oh, goody, I can't wait till I can libate again! Yum.

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  28. No wonder you forgot the photo- there's a shit load of vodka in there!

    I'm running out to get me some Hanger vodka. I have never heard of it so thanks for the tip- I don't do sweet either

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  29. This sounds amazing. I'll be making this for my next girls' night!!! And Sideshow Bob? You crack me up!

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  30. This sounds lush! Learning about sugar syrups at the course so cool to see it here in your recipe...maybe I should have a go at infusing some vodka too! I'll be back to pinch this recipe for the summer! xxx

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  31. Oh, this sounds so good! Do your talents know no bounds!?! It's only 9am but I want to try it now.

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  32. The fruit-infused vodkas are wonderful! I've done it with a few and we always loved the result.
    I always thought I was going to be the last generation of liquor-drinkers...all my younger friends drink wine. But here you are...

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  33. Come to mama. This one has me drooling on the floor.

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  34. I did a little tending of bar back in my prime. Pear vodka sounds delicious! Someone at work told me about a lavender vodka. I'd love to try that one too.

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  35. Sounds wonderful...as long as someone else makes it for me. Otherwise, I'm still clutching my bottle of wine. You amaze me with the things you concoct. . . including your vocabulary words. Oh puh-leeze, may I borrow shiteous sometime?

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  36. Yum. I love pears so I imagine I'd like that.

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  37. My hubby-to-be and I did infused vodkas for his company christmas presents. We did 4 bottles of pineapple and 2 bottles of jalapeno and provided a cute recipe tied around the neck of the bottle. They both turned our surprisingly well and were super easy!! Yum!

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  38. yuummerrrs, thhiiiish izzzz jusht deehhllishshshuz.

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  39. I am glad you cleared that up! I didn't know the after college years were the WTF do I do now? years!

    I too, tended bar. And your right, when it's slow, you tend to come up with different drinks for the regulars to try - hoping that more free drinks will be a bigger tip for you, but that never happened.

    I'll never forget being called into the bar owners office. He wanted to know why there were two empty bottles of chambord. I told him "oh, I made a new shot of it - I called them purple hooters!" He asked "how much did you sell them for? I quickly responded $.50 cents! I had no idea it cost the bar about $50 a bottle!!

    I'll have to look for that pear vodka - what a great summer drink!

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  40. first of all, that grape tip is all kinds of awesome--i can't believe i never came across it before! secondly, i would HATE tending bar! if there's anything worse than picky customers, it's snockered customers. this drink sounds delicious though--well done!

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  41. mmmmm...please, please, please start a series of drink recipes. i don't have the creativity to come up with concoctions like this myself, but i have the determination to try everything you design!

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  42. Pish-tosh, TWK--you can totally do infused vodkas! That's basically how I do our house limoncello, only we also add simple syrup to it.

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  43. Man, could I use one of those babies right now. Do you think they'd mix well with red wine, I wonder?

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  44. I"m in the WTF years right now... how long should it last? ;) It's been 5 years since college, and I'm waiting to figure out what to do with the rest of my life! This drink sounds amazing! Warmer weather and fruity beverages like this that is a match made in heaven.

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