Chow Town

Think cocktails, not just jams, when picking strawberries

Strawberries are never better than when fresh-picked, so I was thrilled when last week’s sunshine finally ripened those at

Wohletz Farm Fresh

near Lawrence.

Our carload of eager little hands helped pick more than 20 pounds, but already it seems like not enough.

Some went to jam, of course, and onto shortcakes. More were used in making strawberry-balsamic “popstickles” from

The Cleaner Plate Club

and

The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen’s

strawberry-coconut ice cream.

And then there are the grown-up treats, like infused spirits.

Infusions have been around for ages, and they’re still one of the best ways to bottle seasonal flavors. You can simply pour vodka over strawberries and leave it to age, but

Luscious Liqueurs

adds a few steps to create what the book calls Strawberry Gold.

Rinse about 3 1/2 cups of strawberries and spread them on paper towels to air dry. Hull the berries and trim any blemished spots. Coarsely chop the berries and put them in a large glass container with a tight-fitting lid (Mason jars work well). Add 3 cups of vodka, stir and seal. Place the jar in a dry, cool and dark spot and let sit. Don’t forget about the jar, though — give it a good swirl every three days.

After two weeks, add the simple syrup and vanilla, stir and reseal. Return it to its spot for another two weeks, whirling the contents every other day.

Finally, filter the liquid through a fine mesh strainer; then strain it again through a double layer of cheesecloth; and strain it a third time through a fresh double layer of cheesecloth into a large bottle.

To serve, shake 2 ounces of Strawberry Gold with 2 ounces of vodka and 1 ounce simple syrup.

Market-Fresh Mixology

offers a similar take, only with gin and rosemary.

The book — one of my favorites — combines 10 pints of sliced strawberries with seven rosemary sprigs and two 750ml bottles of gin (you can always halve the recipe if it seems like too much). Allow the mixture to rest for a week, and then strain liquor back into empty gin bottles. To serve, shake 2 ounces of the strawberry-rosemary infusion with 3 ounces of freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice and serve in a short, ice-filled glass rimmed with salt.

Still, it’s hard to wait weeks to try new, tasty things. If you can’t wait (or to fill the time while you do), try this strawberry cordial recipe from

Speakeasy

. You won’t even notice when the season ends.

Strawberry Cordial

Speakeasy’s easy strawberry cordial would be as delicious over ice cream or mixed with club soda as it would in a cocktail like the Fraise Sauvage (recipe below).

Makes about 1 quart 4 pounds fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup water grated zest of 1 lemon 1 vanilla bean, scored and scraped

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, then decrease the heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain out the lemon zest and vanilla bean and pour into a store-and-pour container. The cordial will keep for 7 days, refrigerated. Keep refrigerated until use.

Fraise Sauvage

This spin on the French 75 is from Speakeasy.

1 1/4 ounces Plymouth gin 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/4 ounce simple syrup 1/2 ounce strawberry cordial (or one whole, hulled fresh strawberry, muddled) 2 ounces demi-sec Champagne or sparkling wine 1/2 fresh strawberry, for garnish

Pour the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and strawberry cordial into a mixing glass. Add large ice cubes, cover and shake vigorously for 7 or 8 seconds. Pour the Champagne into a chilled cocktail glass, and pour the cocktail over it. Garnish with a half strawberry.

Anne Brockhoff is an award-winning spirits writer who writes a monthly column for The Star’s Food section, as well as food features. She blogs at food_drink_ life.wordpress.com.
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