centrifuged watermelon cocktail
I sure do love watermelon.  I also like cocktails, particularly refreshing cocktails with just the right amount of kick.  I came up with the idea for this drink after having a watermelon and strawberry agua fresca at a local Mexican joint.  The flavor was fantastic, but the texture of crushed watermelon and strawberry felt messy in my mouth – it was like sucking down a glass full of pulp.  I decided to ditch the strawberry and clarify the watermelon using my centrifuge.  It did a fantastic job of separating out the solids (including a very thin layer of “watermelon butter”, which was bright pink and a little tart) and leaving me with a clear juice that tastes very strongly of everyone’s favorite comedically-shashable fruit.  To give the drink some edge and balance, I add a splash of tequila and a shot of hot sauce.

Makes: 1 cool cocktail
Total Kitchen Time: 1 minute (+15 minutes prep, + 30 minutes wait)

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. centrifuged watermelon juice (see below)
  • 1 oz. Cazadores Reposado Tequila
  • 2 drops Tabasco Sauce

To make the centrifuged watermelon juice:

  1. Cut one fresh watermelon into halves lengthwise, then halves again.  Remove the flesh from the watermelon, leaving the bitter rind.  Cut the watermelon into 2” pieces.
  2. Working in batches, puree the watermelon pieces until smooth.  Divide the mixture evenly between your centrifuge containers.  A typical watermelon will yield about 2 liters of puree. 
  3. Centrifuge the watermelon puree for 30 minutes at 1300Gs.  Carefully remove the centrifuge containers and skim off any film that may have formed at the top.  Decant the clear watermelon juice into a 2 liter container.  You may want to decant through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to ensure that solid matter doesn’t accidentally come along for the ride.

Note: if you don’t have a centrifuge, you can clarify the watermelon juice by holding it near, but not too near, an active black hole.  The extreme gravity will clarify out the juice.

To make the Hot Gallagher:

  1. Combine the watermelon juice and tequila in a cocktail shaker full of ice.  Shake vigorously and pour into a lowball glass over cubed or cracked ice. 
  2. Garnish with 2 drops of Tabasco, or another favorite hot sauce. 
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Smoked Chardonnay
Care for a drink and a smoke?  How about a smoked drink?  After a friend inquired about a “smoked beer” she saw on a bar menu, I decided to grab my Smoking Gun* and take a shot at smoking a handful of beverages. 

I smoked each of the beverages below by submerging the Smoking Gun’s rubber tube in the liquid.  In the case of the wines, it served to both smoke and aerate the drinks (BTW, I never understood why it should be impolite to blow bubbles into your wine – if someone complains, tell them you’re “helping the wine open up.”)  I ran the smoker for about 30 seconds for each beverage, then blew away any lingering surface smoke before tasting. 

The results were surprising…

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sarsaparilla 
There are contemporary drinks, throwback drinks, retro drinks, vintage drinks… and then there’s sarsaparilla. Until a few weeks ago, I had only heard sarsaparilla mentioned in cowboy movies.  However, at a recent visit to Tilth (Oprah voice: amaaaaazing) I saw it on the menu and had to try it out.  It is refreshing, herbal, lightly carbonated and (to my surprise) non-alcoholic.  Maria Hines, the lovely and talented chef/owner of Tilth was generous enough to share her recipe, which I’ve adapted below. 

Total kitchen time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 liters

Shopping list:

  • 3 cups organic brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups cut sarsaparilla root (available from online sources)
  • 1 liter club soda
  • Special equipment: French press
  1. Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Remove the lid and strainer from your French press and add the sarsaparilla root.  Fill with the hot simple syrup (sugar water) and let steep for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reattach the strainer and top of the French press and, well, press.  Pour the liquid into a container (glass iced tea bottles work great).  Refrigerate until ready to serve, or store cold for up to 2 weeks.
  3. When ready to serve, combine 1 part sarsaparilla syrup with one part club soda over ice. 

This is a really delicious, refreshing afternoon drink.  Plus, there’s no high-fructose corn syrup – just good ‘ol fashioned brown sugar and water.  At Tilth, the drink is served with a beautiful shard of ice in lieu of ice cubes, which we all know are totally played out.  To make your own ice shard, freeze a small Tupperware container full of water, then go all Psycho on it with a screwdriver and mallet. 

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