The Fizzbite

The story of this cocktail (highball, technically) begins at Montreal's Macaroni Bar, where the PhoBlograpHusband and I have parked our kiesters atop bar stools recently (although mine barely fits nowadays) because that's now where Tao and Tony work. They're pretty much given free rein behind the bar there, creatively speaking, so long as they also keep up with customer demand for vodka sodas and pitchers of sangria.

Speaking of pitcher drinks, the last time we were there, Tony told us about some summertime refreshers he's been tinkering with, including a fresh lemonade made with a rosemary-infused simple syrup. He let us try some, and upon first sip, I was awash in an aura of complete summertime relaxation spiked with my ever-bubbling-near-the-surface total jealousy. How had I never thought of rosemary lemonade myself?

Sean encouraged me to do Tony's rosemary lemonade as a blog post, but I meant it when I told y'all that this blog isn't going mocktail just because I'm pregnant, and second, that's a lot of lemons to juice.  So then what entered the picture was a gift we'd received for Christmas and, I'm shame-faced to say, hadn't yet put to use: A fruit infuser pitcher, aka a "pitcher with flavor infuser." (Sean's Aunt Carrie and Uncle Tommy always give us the best bartender Christmas gifts; hi, Aunt Carrie and Uncle Tommy!)

This pitcher gizmo corrals your sliced-up fruit/veggies/herbs/what have you down the center of the pitcher instead of letting them float all willy-nilly on their own. I'm not sure how overall effective that is but it sure is fun to play with. And speaking of fun to play with, the best thing I could think to do to a pitcher of lemon and rosemary-infused water was to carbonate it with our trusty Sodastream. We are now talking refreshing, dry and crisp variety, turned up to 11.

(Science question: How come when I carbonate a lemon-spiked water, it seems get much, much fizzier than if I had carbonated the same amount of plain water? Is the acidity of the lemon doing something in there?)

Such a mixer will easily pair with your clear, aromatic spirit of choice: gin, eau de vie, or in the case of the Fizzbite, NY-state grappa distilled from Gewurtztraminer grapes. Sean actually found the Fizzbite too bitey, but I loved the parade of sting-->grappa's sour apple notes-->more seltzer-y sting-->lemon tartness-->rosemary essence marching down my gullet.

The Fizzbite

1  1/2 ounces Finger Lakes Distilling Grappa

Lemon-rosemary club soda, to fill

Lemon wheel and rosemary sprig, to garnish

Fill your highball glass of choice with ice. Pour in grappa. Fill with club soda and garnish.

Tasting Notes

FYI, we infused the plain water for a week-ish before carbonating, although we could've stopped at half that. When carbonated, the rosemary-lemon soda water took on an almost peachy-pink tone. I don't know why... science question?  Tastes fine, though, I am still drinking and enjoying the soda water straight.

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The Strawberry-Basil-Grappa Thing

Guest post by the PhoBlograpHusband

Seriously, summer!?! Three days of suck-it-Trebeck humidity and thunderstorms, capped off by a 67-degree Friday and foggy in the middle of the day, that’s your idea of a grand entrance? Rose and and I have been looking forward to debuting these fantastic-for-summer, mouthwatering concoctions for months and this is what you give us?

(Yes, we’re bitching about the weather two days in a row, but it has really sucked...)

So long as you allow me a half-hour of relative sunlight on Saturday mornings so I can hit the farmer's market in peace, I won’t let you spoil my fun. The Strawberry-Basil-Grappa Thing is perhaps the perfect seasonal cocktail for the first week of summer, when farmer’s-market strawberries and basil are at their ripest and most abundant.

I’ve seen a few strawberry and basil cocktails out there before, but they are generally vodka-based and come off as little more than a slightly boozy summer salad. Our way around this was grappa. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with grappa my whole drinking life. I want to love it but I usually end up hating it. Though I’m not one to shy away from straight liquor, the burn of grappa is just a little too aggressive, the finish a little too long. Turns out that grappa’s in-your-faceness was just the thing to give what could have been an all too saccharine and ethereal cocktail real substance.

The Strawberry-Basil-Grappa Thing

1 ¼ ounces Finger Lakes Distillery Grappa

¾ ounce Grand Marnier

1 ¼ ounces club soda

4-5 basil leaves

2 strawberries

¼ teaspoon Colonel De’s Mint Julep sugar

Muddle strawberries, basil and sugar (regular sugar will work if you can’t get some from the Colonel) at the bottom of a highball glass. Fill glass with ice and add grappa, Grand Marnier and soda and stir or lightly toss back and forth into a tumbler.

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