Drink Recipe, Deconstructed: Red Dawn

Ever tried to make cocktails in a non-kitchen setting? It’s one thing to demo cocktails at a bar, or in a kitchen classroom. But it’s a fair challenge to make a cocktail in say, a bookstore or a radio booth, where there’s no sink, no ice, and sometimes, no time to pour and measure out liquids.

So I’ve mastered the fine art of the portable cocktail. I like to think of it as advanced mise en place:  at home, I take care of squeezing citrus juice, infusing spirits, and then carefully measure out each liquid ingredient into 4-ounce disposable plastic containers. 

But guess what? It’s easy to confuse identical clear liquids in identical tiny containers. So I also label each one with the drink name (I’m often demonstrating multiple drinks), plus the amount and name of the liquid. Then I pack it all up (along with my cocktail shakers, one for each drink since there’s no time to rinse out), and take it with me. I sometimes even pack a painstakingly curled lemon peel or jalapeno round for garnish. It’s all very OCD.

At the studio, I then quickly group the containers together for each drink. And when it’s time to mix & go, I use the labels to narrate what I’m making as I pour everything into the shaker. strain, and serve the lovely radio host of the day.

Here’s a photo of one of the drinks I made this way for Everyday Food, a Martha Stewart show on Sirius. It’s like a deconstructed poem of a drink — you don’t even need the recipe, because if you read the labels across, you have all the ingredients and proportions. Note the curled lemon peel in the tiny baggie — because looks count, even on the radio. Wouldn’t it be neat to have a cookbook done this way?

The Red Dawn, deconstructed.

But just in case you’re not a visual type, here’s the Red Dawn recipe in traditional format.

Red Dawn (from Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails)

2 ounces citron vodka

4 ounces tomato juice

1/2 teaspoon harissa (a Tunisian hot sauce made with red chiles, garlic, paprika…mmm…)

curled lemon peel or lemon wedge, for garnish

Combine the vodka, tomato juice, and harissa in a glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon curl or lemon wedge.


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