Tuesday, October 7, 2008

sweet and spicy

This pretty little concoction is from the kitchen nightmares dinner party. While storming around the apartment, deep down I knew all was not lost because at the very least we would still have cocktails. A good drink can really turn a dire situation around.

When planning that fall-inspired meal, I wanted something equally autumnal to drink before dinner. I thought about rum and apple cider, but that seemed too wintery. Cranberry juice is nice with vodka, but it reminds me of cosmos and some ill-spent nights in college, which makes me feel embarrassed. Apple-flavored vodka and creamy drinks like pumpkin pie-tinis make me want to wretch. Remind me why was I on a fall cocktail kick again?

I was about to throw in the towel and just serve wine, but then I started thinking about spices, especially ginger, which seemed perfect for fall. I could make dark and stormys--ginger beer and rum--but that combination conjured sandy beaches, not fall leaves. A quick search on Epicurious produced a sparkling ginger cocktail recipe, and I was immediately sold. I'll take any flimsy excuse to drink sparkling wine, and this drink is simple. You just take cold, bubbly Prosecco and spike it with a splash of spicy ginger syrup. I also coated the rim of the glass with ginger sugar, for an extra dose of sweetness and heat with each sip. It was the perfect early fall drink, more of a light sweater than a heavy wool blanket.

Sparkling ginger cocktails
I tweaked this recipe from Gourmet by adding ground ginger to the syrup, making it a bit spicier. I also created a faster (and better, I think) ginger sugar by replacing candied ginger with more ground ginger.
(Makes 10 drinks)

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sliced fresh ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1 to 2 Tbsp. ground ginger
1/2 lemon
2 bottles chilled Prosecco or Cava

Simmer water, fresh ginger, and 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan, uncovered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes. Strain syrup through a sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Taste and stir in 1 Tbsp. ground ginger, if you'd like it a bit spicier. Chill until cold. Combine 1 Tbsp. ground ginger with 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl, then spread on a small plate. Run the cut lemon around the rims of each glass, then dip the rims into the ginger sugar. Pour 1 tsp. syrup into each glass and top off with Prosecco.

Perfect with a variety of apples (gala, granny smith, macintosh), cheese (buttermilk blue, sharp cheddar, and goat cheese), honey, and dark bread.

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