Cheese and Cocktails for July 4
Part 2 of a series: I’m a big believer in pairing cocktails and cheese. Especially in sultry summer. The cocktail should be bright. It should fizz — effervescence cleanses the palate. And the presentation should make people gasp. A good cocktail, like a splendid cheese, should be arresting…even a bit lusty.
The truth is, you don’t need to be a cocktail genius to develop a lusty cocktail. Below, you’ll find my recipe for these Raspberry Shrub Cocktails, but first, here’s my trick for building a quick garden cocktail that brightens a backyard party or travels well on a picnic. Especially a cheese picnic.
1. Pick a Clear Spirit
Grab a bottle of vodka or gin. (If it’s me, it’s gin. No question. I love the botanicals.) You’ll need 1 to 2 ounces per drink.
2. Pick a Juice or Two (preferably on the acidic side)
Here, I combined a hefty splash of lemonade and a small splash of raspberry shrub — a tart syrup made with fruit, sugar, and vinegar. (I always keep Tait Farm fruit shrubs in my pantry — but I also like to make my own, using this basic shrub recipe). You could also use lime, cherry juice, blueberry juice, or pomegranate juice. Plan on 2 to 3 ounces of juice (total) per drink.
3. Pick your Bubbles
Champagne, club soda, mineral water, or ginger beer are all great topper-offers. I used club soda, but I like to pop open a bottle of Prosecco or Champagne if I’m having friends over. You’ll want 2 to 3 ounces of bubbly for each drink.
4. Pick some Herbs
A sprig of herbs adds aroma and creates a connection between your cocktail and your dairy (milk begins with animals eating vegetation, after all.) Basil, thyme, sage, mint, or rosemary are all great in cocktails. Spank your herbs between your hands before floating them on top of your drink — that releases their aroma. If you have cheeky friends, make them spank their own herbs.
Pairing Cheese and Cocktails
Here’s the secret: a sparkly drink with a fresh herb garnish will work with pretty much any cheese, which is why these drinks are ideal for serving with a cheese board. Mozzarrella? Great. Salty Pecorino? No problem. Funky stinker? Be glad you’ve added the herbs to freshen your breath!
Lusty Shrub Sparklers a la Madame Fromage
This is a mellow, rather genteel cocktail — easy for afternoons and swell with all kinds of cheeses. Read through the instructions for making a lusty cocktail in the note. Do you like to muddle and grind? This is the question. If not, let it all float.
1.5 ounces gin (I use Plymouth, it’s soft and balanced)
3 ounces lemonade (or 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice, if you like things tart)
2 teaspoons raspberry shrub (I like Tait Farm’s)
club soda or sparkling water
fresh thyme, a lemon wedge, and raspberries to garnish
Pour gin, lemonade, and shrub into a rocks or collins glass. Stir. Add ice and top with club soda. Run the lemon (peel-side) around the rim to release the oils and drop it in. Top with a raspberry and a sprig of spanked thyme. Now you have a mellow, genteel cocktail that pairs easily with so many cheeses. NOTE: If you feel truly lusty, muddle the lemon wedge, raspberries, and thyme in the bottom of the glass before you do anything else — this makes for a more robust taste of bitter peel and herbs.
Stay tuned for the next post: I’ll share the cheese board I paired with these cocktails — you may recognize them already, but I’ll explain why I chose them and what preserves to pair with them. For the introduction to this July 4 series, view the first post on my July 4 Cheese and Preserves Picnic and be sure to visit my friend Marisa over at Foodinjars.com to see this cheese-and-jam collab unfold.