The drink you need for your 4th of July party: The Rosemary Refresher


The Rosemary Refresher

photo credit: Teri Lyn Fisher

It’s possible that I may I love this drink a little too much. I made a batch for a book signing event on Saturday, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

A few random thoughts on this drink:

  • Although it was created to be a pitcher drink, if it’s going to sit out for longer than a few minutes before guests gulp it down in a thirsty frenzy, do not add ice! This drink is best when chilled, but loses all its oomph when it gets watered down. Mix it up and set it in a bottle or carafe, and pour it over ice to serve, if it’s going to sit for any length of time. (if serving right away, the pitcher method is just fine, though.)
  • If any rosemary syrup (and/or lime juice) is left over, refrigerate it and save it. Sunday night, I used this template to create an enjoyable Rosemary Daiquiri (though I used 2 oz white rum, not 2.5 oz aged rum). Tuesday night, I found inspiration here to make a rosemary-tinged gin Gimlet.
  • The rosemary sprig garnish is optional. But it makes the drink look really impressive.

The Rosemary Refresher

From Cocktails for a Crowd, by Kara Newman (Chronicle Books)

Serves 8
Total volume: 4 3/4 cups (without ice)

This sophisticated margarita variation is a wonderful thirst-quenching aperitif. The recipe makes a bit more rosemary-infused simple syrup than needed for the cocktails. Offer the leftover portion in a small pitcher for anyone who isn’t drinking alcohol so they can enjoy it mixed with club soda or ginger ale.

Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 cups reposado tequila
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
6 ounces rosemary-infused simple syrup
4 cups ice cubes
8 sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish

To make the rosemary syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. When the syrup starts to boil, lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Gently roll the rosemary between your hands to release some of the aromatic oils, then add it to the syrup. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then remove the rosemary sprigs and strain the syrup if need be. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, the syrup will keep for about 2 weeks.

To make the cocktails: In pitcher that holds at least 10 cups, combine the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and rosemary simple syrup and stir until thoroughly blended. Add the ice and stir well.

To serve, pour into rocks glasses and garnish each glass with a rosemary sprig.

Celery-spiked cocktail recipe: Green Hornet

My article, “Put A Stalk In It,” about celery-spiked cocktails, is in the May/June issue of Imbibe Magazine.

Although it may seem like an obscure ingredient for cocktails, once I started looking around, I found myself spotting celery everywhere, in various forms. Erick Castro has a Paloma riff at his new bar, Polite Provisions, subbing Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda in place of grapefruit Jarritos. Celery foam tops Bloody Marys.  A Celery Gimlet is on the menu at Saxon + Parole, one of my new favorite bars — with celery juice and Maldon sea salt. Celery shrub here. Celery bitters there. Celery seed-infused syrups. Housemade celery cordial at Dead Rabbit. In researching a separate article on Rock & Rye, I came across a 1902 reference to “La Rue’s Celery Rock & Rye.”  

It’s enough to make you want a good drink.  So here’s one to try. Although it didn’t fit into the Imbibe article, it’s a mighty refreshing cocktail nevertheless.

Green Hornet

Tona Palomino, Trenchermen, Chicago, IL

The menu description reads simply:  celery gin and tonic. “A lot of people thought it was celery gin,” notes Palomino. “Rather, it’s a celery-flavored gin and tonic.”

1.5 oz. gin

1.5 oz. fresh celery juice

3/4 oz. simple syrup

3/4 oz. lime juice

I dash  Bitter Truth Celery Bitters (optional)

1 oz.  tonic water

Measure everything but the tonic water into a cocktail shaker. Cover with ice and shake. Strain into a 12-ounce Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top off with the tonic water.

Hot Stuff: Making Chile-Cello

photo credit: Paul Fontana

I love limoncello, as well as lime-cello and orange-cello, so I thought, why not try the same experiment with chile peppers?

Well….with some modifications. The key to limoncello is to combine high-proof spirits with citrus peel, and then allow it to steep undisturbed for at least a week, often longer. But you can’t do that with chiles, which infuse super-fast. A week-long infusion would be insanely spicy. So here’s my revised version, loosely based on Scott Beattie’s “Hello Cello” recipe from Artisanal Cocktails.


Zest of 4 lemons

Zest of 5 limes

2 jalapeno peppers, sliced lengthwise

1 quart 100-proof vodka

2 cups simple syrup  (2:1 ratio)

Combine citrus zest, jalapenos, and vodka in a large, air-tight container. Allow to sit for 2 hours, then remove pepper pieces (look out for free-floating pepper seeds, too). Cover tightly, and let the mixture rest for at least 1 week in a cool, dark place.

Once infused, strain out the zest and add the simple syrup to the vodka. Seal the container and let the cello rest for 1 more week, refrigerated.

Strain cello into glass bottles and store them in the freezer.

We’re All Famous For 15 Minutes

There are definitely certain perks to covering the booze beat.  One of them is having a drink named after you.

Working on a story about fall apple and pear cocktails, I walked into O’Neals’ on the Upper West Side one evening and requested a cocktail menu. “We don’t have that,” bartender Dave scoffed. “But tell me what you want, and I’ll make it.”

I requested “something with apples,” but not a dreaded apple martini. Ever the pro, Dave puzzled over the drink for all of a split second, and quickly came up with the main ingredient: Calvados brandy, which I love. A pour of this, a splash of that, a quick go-round in a silver shaker, and it was all done.

“Do you like it?” Dave asked. Absolutely. It was very strong, almost medicinal like a drink with bitters, but the aftertaste was mellow, fruity and pleasant. Definitely a winner in my book.

“What’s your name?” I told him. “We’ll name it after you,” he said.

While I bet he says that to all the girls, I’m still psyched to have my own cocktail, and a damn good one, too. I dare you to go to O’Neals’ and order it by name.

“The Kara” Cocktail

 2 parts Calvados brandy

1 part vodka

Splash of Rose’s lime juice

Mix ingredients together, and pour into an Old-Fashioned glass, over ice. Garnish with a slice of fresh red apple.