Thursday, April 6, 2017

Beauty Elixir


One of my favorite things about dining out with friends is enjoying delicious craft cocktails. The nicer the restaurant, the nicer the cocktails typically are. It feels like a work of art trying some of these wonderful drinks, and I enjoy creating them at home as well when the opportunity arises.


I was recently approached by Vegas.com to spread awareness and share a signature cocktail in honor of an upcoming event in Las Vegas called For the Love of Cocktails. It's a 72-hour fundraiser directly supporting bartenders in need of cancer pre-screenings and care. This is more than a breast cancer awareness event, it's also a party for mixologists to get together for a cause, and celebrate something they love.


Breast cancer is a cause that is near and dear to me, as I've had several family members who have survived the disease. I'm happy to offer my support, and direct mixologists and drink enthusiasts who may be interested in taking part in this exciting event to find more information on how to get tickets, and plan their trip to Vegas.


While I personally won't be able to make it to Las Vegas, I'm happy to share a lovely cocktail recipe today in honor of the cause. One of the signature cocktails at Beauty & Essex (in New York City, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles) is the Beauty Elixir.


At Beauty & Essex, the cocktail starts out with muddled cucumber and strawberry puree which is shaken over ice with Hendricks gin, lemon juice, and lemon simple syrup. It's strained into a cocktail glass (the restaurant uses a coupe cocktail glass) and topped off with rosé sparkling wine, and garnished with a cucumber slice.


Lucky for us, the recipe for Beauty Elixir is available in Chris Santos's recently released cookbook Share. This drink reminds me of one you would get at a spa (if you were hypothetically drinking alcohol at a spa), or something much more interesting than a mimosa or bellini for brunch. It's also excellent before, during, and after dinner. And let's not forget that it's PINK, the color for breast cancer awareness.


Light and fruity, with a hint of sweetness from the strawberries, tartness from the lemon, effervescence from the sparkling wine, strength from the gin, and an herbaceous touch from the cucumber, this cocktail has it all.


My cocktail glasses are perhaps a touch larger than most, so I can fit more drink into them. I made the recipe below following the "party-sized" instructions, and yielded 1 1/4 cups liquid before shaking and topping with sparkling wine. This divides up to exactly 5 tablespoons per 4 cocktails, but I was a bit more generous with mine (a very generous 1/3 cup) and yielded 3 cocktails instead of 4 (with plenty of room to top off with sparkling wine).


Either way, this is a fun, fresh, fruity cocktail with an unexpected twist from the cucumber. Considering the fact that a bottle of sparkling wine only stays bubbly for so long before going flat, it would make sense to shake up this cocktail for a small crowd unless you have stocked up on those tiny, single-size champagne bottles.


Beauty Elixir
Makes 1 or 4 cocktails
(From Share)

2 (1/4-inch) slices Kirby cucumber, unpeeled, plus more for garnish
3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) strawberry puree (see note)
1 1/2 ounces London dry gin
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce lemon simple syrup (recipe follows)
1/2 ounce rosé sparkling wine or champagne, as needed

Muddle the cucumber and strawberry puree well in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and gin, lemon juice, and lemon syrup; shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with the sparkling wine. Garnish with a cucumber slice and serve.

Note: To make strawberry puree, process hulled strawberries as needed (3 large strawberries make about 1 1/2 tablespoons puree) in a mini-food processor until smooth.

Party-Sized Beauty Elixir: Pulse 8 slices cucumber and 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) strawberry puree in a blender to mince them. Add 6 ounces (3/4 cup) gin, 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice, and 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) lemon syrup and pulse just to combine. Strain the gin mixture through a wire sieve into a small pitcher. (The mixture can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 hours.) For each drink, pour about 3 ounces (a generous 1/3 cup) into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass, top with the sparkling wine, and garnish with a cucumber slice. Makes 4 cocktails.

Lemon Simple Syrup
Makes about 4 ounces (1/2 cup)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Let cool. (The syrup can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.)

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