29 July 2011

Alchemy With Lime

Do you know Ilina? She's a feisty cocktail inventor, a fellow homonym aficionado, and a left-minded rabble-rouser. I recently got her attention with an en passsant remark on Twitter (or Facebook, who can remember?) and ended up doing a guest post for her 5:00 Fridays series. Looking for drinks inspiration? Check in with her every Friday.

I love a good gin and tonic, but what I've come to realize is that it's all about the lime. I don't much care what brand of gin you use, I prefer the tonic freshly opened so it's not flat, but whatever you do, give me more lime!

Not too long ago, I happened upon a recipe on the Times website for a "better mixer". I wasn't looking for a better mixer but the photo, involving what was clearly a lot of lime, intrigued me. I immediately put 18 limes on the shopping list.

I washed the limes. I carefully shaved off the green peel with a vegetable peeler. I squeezed the limes. I measured the juice and added sugar and stirred in the peel. I let it sit overnight. I strained out the peel. I waited another day, until I was quivering with anticipation as I got out the cocktail shaker.

We mixed up a batch using a 1:1 ratio of gin to cordial. We served it up, over ice cubes, in martini glasses. It was thoroughly delightful, if a tiny bit on the sweet side.

For the next one, I got out the tiny angled measuring cup - which is less cute but more useful than a traditional jigger - and we tried 2 ounces of gin to an ounce of cordial. That was a little too heavy on the gin for my taste.

The third version was the charm: an ounce and a half of gin plus an ounce of cordial made the perfect balance of sweet, tangy, potent. It might even be better than a gin and tonic.

The cordial is amazing. It's just lime juice and sugar, in a 1:1 ratio, with the peels infused into it, but somehow those simple ingredients transform into magic, unctous, viscous, pale green magic.

Lime Cordial, adapted from the New York Times

10-12 limes

Wash limes in warm water and towel them dry. Shave off the green peel with a vegetable peeler.

Cut limes in half and juice them. Measure the juice. Measure an equal quantity of sugar. (If you have two cups of lime juice, measure out two cups of sugar.)

In a glass jar (like a 1 quart mason jar), add sugar to juice and stir until fully dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Drop the peels in and mash them around with a wooden spoon to extract some of the lime oil. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. When ready, strain the cordial off from the peels into a clean mason jar or stoppered bottle. Put it back in the fridge for another day, to cure, before using. (I got about 3 cups of cordial out of 2 cups of juice from 11 limes. Your quantities will depend on the size and plumpness of your limes.)

Perfect Gimlet

3 ounces lime cordial
2 ounces gin

Shake together and serve over ice.

Perfect Lime Soda

3 ounces lime cordial
8 ounces selzer

Serve over ice.


RuthWells said...

Loathe gin, but adore the tiny angled measuring up. Indispensible for mixing a good mojito.

shrink on the couch said...

This almost makes me want to give gin another try. But then, fresh squeezed lime juice can make just about anything taste good. Let me put it this way, if someone only has gin in the house? I'll ask for fresh squeezed lime.

She Curmudgeon said...

I am never a gin gal, but I'll have to see what she does with whisky and its ilk. : )

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, you've (re)invented the Gimlet! Welcome to the club.

This calls for a drink.

Bee said...

I've never known what a gimlet was! It makes me feel all Zelda Fitzgerald-ish.

Limes automatically make me think of my father -- who would include them in every summer drink. I'm very much persuaded to make some lime cordial.