As Jan’s been busy working on his latest project to build his own sous vide machine (adventures in sous vide cooking to come soon), I’ve been immersing myself in the wood-paneled world of Mad Men. In that vein, I decided another cocktail was appropriate, this one of my own invention. I’ve modified the Tequila Sunrise to my particular tastes, replacing tequila with vodka and grenadine with cranberry juice.
The Stockholm Sunrise
Take a glass filled with ice cubes and add 1.5 shots of vodka (see my measuring and drink-mixing tips here). Fill to within 1/2 an inch from the top of the glass with orange juice. Then add a splash of cranberry juice to the top and enjoy.
When I heard someone ordering a “skinny” margarita the other day from the bar, I had to stop and ask the bartender what exactly that was. I learned that it’s a margarita with margarita mix (or sweet & sour) replaced by club soda and lime juice.
Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel has even trademarked her version of this margarita as “The Skinnygirl.” But the basic principles are simple: mixers with no sugar and fresh fruit and liqueurs for flavor.
As I’ve been using club soda to tone down overly sweet drinks for a while now, I knew I’d like this less sweet version of the margarita, but I wondered if others would accept its less sweet taste.
I decided to do a side by side comparison of the skinny margarita verses the standard, with Jan as my second judge. After all, since he’s a guy who uses Coke, ginger ale, and tonic water as his main drink mixers, I could assume he’s less concerned about his sugar (and therefore calorie) intake than I am. So while I might be swayed to like something more because it’s healthier (as I did with the peach ice cream), he would be able to judge purely on taste.
But before making the margaritas, I wanted to share a couple of my drink-mixing tips. First secret: triple sec. This orange-flavored liqueur compliments so many different types of spirits and seems to magically neutralize the strong alcohol flavors of vodka, tequila, and whiskey (the bases of most drinks mixed at my bar). It’s a must-have for a well stocked bar, and you don’t need to go fancy with Cointreau.
Also, I don’t measure anything that goes into a drink; I always eyeball it or use a shot glass to get the correct proportions. For me, this makes drink-mixing more laid back and experimental, and opens up the opportunity discover and create new drinks by chance.
If I’ve got a good ratio/recipe down, I’ll use a shot glass for measuring, so my recipe measures amounts this way (keeping in mind that a standard shot glass is 1.5 ounces). You can buy a 1.5 ounce stainless steel jigger (sometimes also called a pony), but I always use a shot glass because it’s handy and easily cleaned in the dishwasher.
Fill glass with ice cubes and add tequila and triple sec. For the skinny margarita, fill the rest of the glass with club soda (it will be about 3 shots, or 4.5 oz. worth) and the juice of 2-3 lime wedges. Stir and enjoy. (Calories: 139. Sugar: 9 grams.)
For the standard, repeat the steps for the skinny, except replace the club soda with margarita mix. (Calories: 297. Sugar: 48 grams. This is using World Classics premium non-alcoholic margarita mix, with 200 calories and 50 grams sugar per 5.8 oz. serving.)
I liked the skinny margarita because I could taste the tequila, helping me avoid the situation of slurping the drink down without realizing how much I was drinking (a very easy thing to do with many “girly” drinks). When sipping on the two side by side, it became apparent that the standard margarita was too sweet.
Jan’s vote was for a combination of the two margaritas: keep the measurements of alcohol the same, but use half club soda/lime juice and half margarita mix. I admitted that was a good compromise, and it did a lot to cut down on the often too-acidic nature of margaritas. But I’m stuck on what to call this margarita–the sort-of-skinny? (Combination of skinny and standard margarita: Calories: 218. Sugar: 29 grams.)
The suddenly summer weather has had me wanting a refreshing happy hour, and I’ve been loving the fresh strawberries in season. I created a cocktail using the infuser that came in a Level Vodka gift set and so far, it works best with easily squishable fruits like strawberries. (Level marketing people will be thrilled, I think Jan actually bought the set just for the cool infuser it came with, but the vodka is also excellent – and made in Sweden – so it’s got a lot going for it.)
Place strawberries at the bottom of the infuser, pour in vodka to the fill-line, and press down. You can also use a blender or food processor and strain after blending. Pour into a glass with ice cubes and add club soda (also works with tonic or ginger ale if you’re not a club soda fan). Garnish with a strawberry and enjoy!