As the snow finally melts and the cold, dreary days of winter give way to longer days and spring flowers it’s time to embrace the changing of the seasons. So with spring in the air I look to lighter, fresh flavors to celebrate the coming of warmer weather such as fresh herbs and flowers, infused spirits and syrups, bright citrus flavors coupled with fresh fruits and vegetables.With this drink, a twist on a classic sour, I complement the delicious grapefruit character of the Finlandia with Aperol, a wonderful aperitif full of bitter-orange and rhubarb flavor. Balanced with fresh lemon & orange juices and just a touch of sweetness from the Clover honey, sunshine in a glass!
1 ½ oz Finlandia Grapefruit
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz fresh orange juice
½ oz Clover honey syrup
½ oz Aperol
½ oz egg white (optional, but gives the drink that rich, creamy, frothy, head)
In a 16 oz mixing glass add Finlandia Grapefruit, Aperol, honey syrup, egg white, lemon & orange juices. Shake with ice until well blended; strain into an ice filled double old fashioned glass. Garnish with a slice of orange & a lemon spiral.
NOTE: Mixing equal parts warm water and Clover honey easily makes honey syrup.
The Mojito is one of my favorite drinks to fiddle with. Now, I know that things heat up a little quicker in Las Vegas than some parts of the country, and some may think that waiting until summer is the proper call on this one, but I say grab your muddler, spearmint and some fresh berries and enjoy! Remember, summer is right around the corner!
WILD BERRY MOJITO
1 ½ oz 10 Cane Rum
3-4 each of fresh blackberries, blueberries & red raspberries
8-12 fresh mint leaves
Juice of one lime
1 oz simple syrup
Mint sprig for garnish
In a 12 oz highball glass, muddle mint, simple syrup, wild berries and lime juice. Fill glass with crushed ice – it is most important to use crushed ice not cubed – then add rum. Stir well until the ice is reduced by 1/3, top with more crushed ice, stir until glass begins to frost on the outside. Spritz with soda water and stir one last time to incorporate. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint that has been dusted with powdered sugar and a swizzle stick – this drink benefits from being stirred on occasion.
The Eastside West is a refreshing little tipple that celebrates fresh herbs, a floral infused sweetener made from tea, and one of my favorite ingredients when I’m looking to lighten up a cocktail, English cucumber. I have also infused the Plymouth gin with fresh rosemary to add an additional layer of flavor which works so well with mint.
1 ½ oz house infused rosemary Plymouth Gin *
1 oz orange blossom syrup (simple syrup) **
Hand extracted juice of 1 small lime
3 slices peeled English cucumber
10-12 fresh spearmint leaves
In a mixing glass add English cucumber, mint leaves and orange blossom syrup, muddle well. Add fresh lime juice and rosemary infused Plymouth gin; shake with ice until well blended. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with 3 thin slices of cucumber floating on top.
* To make infused gin simply place a large sprig of fresh rosemary inside a bottle of Plymouth Gin and allow to infuse for 7 days.
** To make orange blossom syrup I used China Mist Orange Blossom Ginger Ice tea. The tea comes in ½ oz filter bags, enough to make a half gallon of tea so I bring 64 ounces of water to a boil, steep the tea for 10 minutes, remove the tea bag and dissolve 64 ounces of sugar. Allow to cool and refrigerate until needed.ney syrup.
Tony Abou-Ganim Mixes It Up At iMi
Pictured Above: Tony Abou-Ganim and iMi Mixologist Kristen Araoz Gridley muddle the beginnings of a Mojito.
This past winter, Tony traveled to Atlanta and spent a day in iMi’s Mixology Lab discussing drink ideas and trends, and mixing and creating fresh cocktails with Randy McAdoo of Ted’s Montana Grill and Kristen Gridley of iMi. Ted’s is known for their use of fresh ingredients in food and beverage, so the synergy between Tony’s ideas and Randy’s goals for the restaurant’s signature drinks matched perfectly.
Joining Randy, Tony and Kristen were Gena Weaver, Vice President of Marketing and Brett Frasier, Director of Operations West Coast for Ted’s Montana Grill, and Celeste Dinos and Sherri Nadeau with iMi. After spending the day mixing, tasting and collaborating ideas and best practices, the group was left with a variety of innovative choices for Ted’s signature drink offerings. Be sure to visit a Ted’s Montana Grill this summer and try one of their signature drinks for yourself!