Farm to Bar: Recipes for a Summer Cocktail Party

Good summer, ladies and g's. I'm in the midst of preparing for a month-long trip to Sri Lanka. This is hardly an excuse for slacking at the keyboard, but it's all I've got. I did spend quite a long time musing over how much I enjoy Sunday morning coffee in bed, but I just couldn't get that post together.

So instead, here is a seasonal repost from last year, because if I wasn't going away, I would be planning a cocktail party showcasing the best of the flourishing greenmarket. Enjoy! And make yourself a blackberry-lavender martini or a bourbon peach smash. It's the perfect way to enjoy the summer!

Farm to Bar: Recipes for a Late Summer Cocktail Party
originally posted on September 3, 2012

Labor Day, the harbinger of fall is upon us. As much as I look forward to baked apples, frost-sweetened beets, and toasted pumpkin seeds, I will miss the obscene abundance of the late summer greenmarket. You know how much I geek out when ramps appear each Spring... by now I'm actually wearing my fancy panties on market days and dreaming up scenes for what could my debut novel, Fifty Shades of Green.

Of course, also being quite the lush, I've spent more than one steamy afternoon fantasizing about how to seduce those summer flavors into a cocktail glass. And so, with gleeful, geeky-green enthusiasm, I hosted the August meeting of the NY Cocktail Club with a farm-to-table theme.

Everything on the menu included fruit or vegetables from a local farmer's market. This is not just because I believe in supporting local agriculture; buying locally (within a day or two of hosting) is essential for great flavor. 

All of the drink recipes are below. Several require day-before prep and syrup-crafting. Some of the food recipes are included, but a few required ramp pesto. (I squirreled some away in my freezer!) All that said, I hope you enjoy at least one cocktail or salad from this menu before the summers end. The Blackberry-Lavender Martini and the Super Fresh Simple Summer Salad are the easiest.

Finally, most of the photos were taken by the incredibly talented Mrs. O (Kari Otero). Visit her photo blog for more pics from the club meeting.

And, a huge thank you to the Clubettes for contributing amazing and delicious items!

Farm to Bar: Summer Sips Celebration
Drinks Menu
Blackberry Lavender Martini
Cucumber-Basil Martini
Not-so-Bloody Mary
Photo by Kari Otero
Ginger Peach Smash
Cantaloupe-Chartreuse Popsicles
Watermelon-Basil Martini

Tasty Bites Menu
Deviled Eggs with Pickles
Ramp Dip and Chips
Super Fresh Simple Summer Salad 
Forbidden Rice Salad
Pasta Salad with Ramp Pesto, Orange Cherry Tomatos and Feta Cheese
Beer Brats
HA's Watermelon Salad

Drink Recipes
Blackberry Lavender Martini
Photo by Kari Otero
--1.5 oz gin (Beefeater Summer Edition or similiar)
--.5 oz St. Germain
--.5 oz lemon
--Fresh lavender
--3 blackberries

  • Muddle blackberries with a few torn lavender leaves
  • Add gin, St. Germain and lemon
  • Shake with ice
  • Strain through a tea strainer
  • Serve up in a martini glass
  • Garnish with sprig of lavender flowers

Cucumber-Basil Martini 1
Photo by Kari Otero
(Serves 1)
--1.5 oz gin (Bulldog, Hendricks or similar) 
--.75 oz cucumber water (recipe below)
--3-4 torn basil leaves
--.5 oz lime
--2 tsp mild ginger-agave simple syrup*

  • Muddle basil leaves with lime in a shaker
  • Add gin, cucumber water, and simple syrup
  • Shake with ice
  • Strain through a tea strainer
  • Serve up in a martini glass
  • Garnish with third basil leaf and a slice of cucumber
Notes: The ginger-agave syrup was made by bringing water to boil then steeping few tablespoons of ginger in the hot water for about a half hour. I added about 1/2 cup of agave syrup to 1 cup of ginger water. There is a lot of room in this martini to adapt to your taste. Play with adding more lime or simple syrup. Too much lime, however, will overpower the cucumber. You might also serve this on the rocks with soda water.

Photo by Kari Otero
Cucumber Water
(Makes about 6-8 oz)

  • Puree one large or two medium cucumbers in a food processor
  • Pour into a fine sieve lined with cheese cloth and set in a bowl
  • Cover with a plate
  • Place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight
  • Pour collected water into a pretty bottle so it looks nice on the bar
  • Keep refrigerated until use

Notes: Several recipes I found said to remove the peel and seeds while others did not. Your choice. 

Not-So-Bloody Mary
--6 oz gin  (Bulldog, Hendricks or similar) 
--8 oz tomato water (recipe below)
--1 oz lemon juice 
--1 oz lime juice
Photo by Kari Otero
--2 tsp prepared horseradish
--6 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
--3-4 torn celery leaves
--Cayenne pepper to taste
--Salt to taste
--6 oz quality tonic water (see notes)

  • In two batches shake tomato water, lemon and lime, horseradish, Worcestershire and torn celery leaves in a shaker with ice 
  • Strain into a small pitcher
  • Add gin
  • Season with cayenne and salt to taste
  • Divide among 6 glasses (3 ounces in each glass)
  • Add ice
  • Top with one ounce of tonic water (add more to taste if desired but note that it will overpower the tomato if you add too much)
  • Garnish with a tomato slice and a pepper.
Notes: Q Tonic Water is the best I've had. It's all natural, made with agave and much less sweet than other tonics.

Tomato Water
(makes about 10-12 oz)

Photo by Kari Otero
  • Puree about 2 lbs of red tomatoes in a food processor.
  • Pour into a fine sieve lined with cheese cloth (folded in 3-4 layers) and set in a bowl
  • Cover with a plate
  • Place in the refrigerator overnight
  • Pour collected water into a pretty bottle so it looks nice on the bar
  • Keep refrigerated until use

Notes: Do not squeeze the cheesecloth to get out more juice. This lovely water has all the flavor of the fresh tomato without the heaviness of tomato juice.  

Ginger-Peach Smash
Photo by Kari Otero
(Serves 1)
--2 oz bourbon
--.5 oz lemon
--3-4 peach slices
--4 tsp intense ginger syrup (recipe below)
--1 tsp simple syrup (or more to taste)
--2 oz soda Water

  • In a shaker, muddle peaches with intense ginger syrup
  • Add bourbon, lemon and simple syrup
  • Shake with ice
  • Strain through a tea strainer
  • Garnish with a peach slice

Intense Ginger Syrup
Photo by Kari Otero
-- 4 ounces ginger root (this is 1/4 of a lb, use the grocery store scale)
-- 3 cups water
-- 1/4 cup sugar (give or take, see notes)
-- Juice from half a lime
-- 2 small pieces of lime peel (no white)
  • Heat the water in a non-reactive pot
  • Peel the ginger, slice thinly cross-ways, then cut into matchstick-size pieces
  • When the water is near boiling place 1/4 cup in a food processor with the ginger and process for 5-10 seconds
  • Pour back into the pot, add lime
  • Simmer for 1.5 hours partially covered
  • Remove from heat and measure the liquid
  • Return to warm burner and add sugar at a ratio of 4:1 (4 parts water, 1 part sugar, so if you have 1 cup of ginger water, add 1/4 cup of sugar)
Notes: I started with Dale Degroff's recipe from the Essential Cocktail... Better to read his section on syrups and follow the recipe verbatim if you have the book, but I found a few things challenging so above is where I landed.

Cantaloupe-Chartreuse Popsicles
(Makes 9 pops)
--Cantaloupe (about 2 lbs)
--1/4 cup yellow chartreuse
--Squeeze of agave syrup

  • Puree the cantaloupe in a food processor. You will need about 2 1/4 cups of puree. Stir in chartreuse and a small squeeze of agave.
  • Use puree in a popsicle mold or maker.

Notes: I was lucky enough to borrow two Zoku Quick Pop Makers from a fellow gastronomer. Quite frankly, they are awesome. You can make 2-3 batches of three pops in each one in less than a half hour on your countertop. So, I went on to make a few watermelon-raspberry pops as well.

Basil-Watermelon Martini
--2.25 oz watermelon-infused gin (see notes)
--Juice from 1/2 lime
--Dash of simple sryup
--1 large cube of watermelon
--2-3 torn basil leaves

  • Muddle watermelon and basil in a shaker
  • Add gin, lime and simple syrup
  • Shake and strain into a glass

Notes: I used Tanqueray that HA had infused with watermelon for a few days.

Food Recipes
Photo by Kari Otero
Deviled Eggs
--1 dozen eggs
--6 tbs of mayo
--4 tbs sour cream
--Salt and pepper to taste
--Optional seasoning of choice (cumin, essence, coriander are all good choices)
--Various pickles for topping

  • Boil the eggs by placing them in cold water and bringing the water to a simmer, then a boil. Let cook for 12-14 minutes
  • In the meantime prepare an ice bath for the eggs in a large bowl
  • For easier peeling, when the eggs are done, roll them on counter to crack the shells
    (careful they are hot) and then drop into the ice bath.
  • Let sit in the ice bath for 15-20 minutes before peeling
  • Peel eggs, slice lengthwise and remove the yolks into a bowl
  • Mash the yolks with a fork
  • Stir in mayo and sour cream
  • Season to taste
  • Spoon filling into each egg-white half and top with a small piece of pickle

Super Fresh Simple Summer Salad 
--1 small green zucchini
--1 small yellow summer squash
--1 large red tomato
--1 ear of corn
--1 kirby cucumber, peeled and seeded
--1 handful of basil leaves
--Olive or sesame oil (or a combo)
--Zest from half a lemon
--A good squeeze of lemon juice
--Salt to taste, pepper if desired

  • Cut the corn off the cob and steam for few minutes, just until it loses a little hardness but still has some bite. Then put the corn into the freezer for a few minutes. 
  • Chop all the other vegetables
  • Mix in a bowl with oil, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper.
Photo by Kari Otero
HA's Watermelon Salad (courtesy of HA)
--1/2 of a watermelon
--1 cup St. Germain liqueur
--1 tbs light oil, such as sunflower
--A few sprigs of chopped mint
--Salt and pepper to taste

  • Keeping the shell intact, remove and cube the melon
  • Soak in St. Germain
  • Add oil, mint, sea salt and pepper 
  • Transfer the mixture back to the melon shell
  • Let sit for at least an hour then freeze for one hour, serve immediately
Forbidden Rice Salad
Click here for the recipe from Whole Foods.
I used roasted carrot instead of sweet potato and added corn.