Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Currant Affair

This week I am very fortunate to welcome fellow Blogcritics author  Kate Shea KennonKate writes about theater, reviews television shows, and is a badass mixologist.  Basically an all around talent.  I have enjoyed reading her well-written articles since I joined BC and was happy she decided to generously share her talent with us here.

Kate created this wonderful Currant Affair cocktail for this post...Enjoy!

Happy Hour at the Farmer’s Market: A Currant Affair

There are some people whose happy hours are spent at the week-end farmer’s market. And then there are those people whose happiest hours are well past the time the farmers have packed up their goat cheese. The drinking class would do well, however, to rise with the roosters and check out what’s being brought to market for there are infinite possibilities for a summer cocktail at the nearby farmer’s stand. Remember, think globally, drink locally.

A recent trip to a nearby farmer’s market in Bronxville, NY ( a town, farmers take note, that the New York Times reported today, is not suffering from the real estate recession that is affecting the rest of the country) offered lots of inspiration for this article.

To begin with, there’s the ubiquitous cucumbers and fresh basil here in Bronxville as in any Farmer’s Market this time of year. As bartender Adam Schuman, from Brooklyn’s Fatty 'Cue proves, basil and cucumber make for a considerable combination in a cocktail.

The South Sixth:

2 oz. gin (or vodka)
2 cucumber slices (1/16 in. thick)
2 basil leaves
1 oz. cardamom simple syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. ginger beer

Muddle cucumber, basil and simple syrup in a pint glass. Add gin and lemon juice. Shake over ice for ten seconds. Double strain into iced highball glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with cucumber wheel. Serve on patio.

When shopping, don’t just buy fresh basil. Buy the plant! Help yourself to the fragrant basil leaves with the South Sixth sense calls you. I bought 2 basil plants for $3 at the market, and you just have to admit, that is a bargain. I placed the plants in my container gardens to ward off my black gardening thumb for just a little while longer.

Mr. Schuman, my hero., also came up with a even more refreshing variation on the cucumber theme: muddling cucumber with the cardamom simple syrup, strain over ice, adding St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, grapefruit juice, sparkling wine and club soda to taste.

Moving beyond the cucumbers, I couldn’t pass by the red currants. Basically because I cannot resist bright, shiny objects.

I was wowed by what looked like thousands of dazzling rubies. I didn’t know anything about the berry at the time but bought some in confidence that I could find something to make with them. They were just too beautiful not to be perfect in some sort of beverage or another.

It turns out that for once my overconfidence paid off - red currants make a wonderful cocktail. Fresh, they are tart like a cranberry, and we all know how important cranberry is in today’s mixology.

 Here is a variation of a Red Currant Martini recipe that I found online:

2 oz. gin
2 oz. red currant simple syrup
1 oz. limoncello
1/3 oz. fresh lemon juice
Garnish with red currants.

In a cocktail shaker, muddle 1/4 cup of red currants and lemon juice. Add gin and limoncello and fill with ice. Shake til frost forms on the outside of the shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with red currants.

As you can see, the red currant martini, pictured with some of the spoils of the day, a looks much like a cosmopolitan but falls on the sweeter side of a well-made cosmo. It might do better on the rocks as most summer drinks do.

I was unwilling to stop there because I felt that the above martini, while perfectly presentable, did not do justice to these beautiful berries. So I went exploring further in hopes of having something new to offer here as a guest blogger.

It’s amazing what a deadline (and a good Japanese soft drink) will do.

Drum roll. Unveiling.

A Michael Giacchino swell of music.

I bring you a Currant Affair.

3 oz. vodka
2 oz. red currant simple syrup
Unsweetened grapefruit soda.
Red currants for garnish.

To make a red currant simple syrup, dissolve one cup sugar in one cup water over low flame. When the sugar dissolves, add one cup of red currants. Stir and let cool. Pour into an airtight container and the syrup will last for up to four months.

In the Currant Affair, I used Gokurí Grapefruit Soda, a soft drink from the Japanese Beverage Company, Suntory. Gokurí, while difficult to find if you don’t live near a Japanese grocery, is particularly wonderful in cocktails. It was the true key to this cocktail’s succes: Gokurí has real fruit pulp, and it doesn’t hide the grapefruit tartness with sugar. It’s a very sophisticated beverage, and the same effect could be had with grapefruit juice and some club soda. You don’t want to use an American grapefruit soda like Squirt, as good as Squirt is, because it is too sweet and will pile on and overpower your currants.

Next week-end, take a morning walk through the local farmer’s market to see what’s possible for the evening cocktail. Next time, I’m going back to load up on more red currants. I hear that Martha has a great recipe for a red currant puree, one that goes perfectly with champagne. In the meantime, I have a particularly aromatic bunch of lavender that I will work with; I just know it will enhance some happy hour.


  1. Kate,

    Thanks again for creating this gorgeous cocktail for us. I am a fan of currants and will be surely giving this a go.

  2. I would love to visit this Farmer's market. The Red Currant Martini is what I want right now. A very attractive color. Lovely!

  3. Wow, this looks good, even first thing in the morning!

  4. Lovely pics of the Farmer's market! Thanks to Kate for such wonderful creative cocktails! Love to have that stunning Red Current Martini!

  5. I'm so there. as in - on that patio with one of each of these drinks. badass mixologist is right!

  6. love this! fancy, fresh, impressive cocktails are all the rage here in DC at places like Founding Farmers, Farmers and Fishers, and Firefly. Love these DYI versions.

  7. Three great refreshing drinks for this summer heat Kate. I liked the addition of the actual whole berries in your currant affair. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Nice to meet you Kate! I second the statement of think globally, drink & eat locally. I bought basil plant last month and I've enjoyed using them fresh from my garden! It's so worth it.

    I'm a lightweight but by looking at your photos and ingredients makes me want to try it. Great guest post!

  9. Love all of these drinks, especially the South Sixth. Sounds almost like my cucumber drink today! I'm going to have to use the Currant Affair as one of my Thirsty Thursday drinks one week. Thanks!

  10. So refreshing drinks! I'll bookmark this freshness when the warm days appear again :)



  11. Gosh, I don't know which cocktail I want to try first ... they're all spectacular! Really loving the use of red currents. Will be making that syrup ASAP. Thanks!

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  13. A drink to chill... love those gorgeous berries in the market.

  14. Refreshing drinks, great for Summer drinks ♥

  15. wow this is right up my alley hiccup! can you give me a double please this sounds great have everything except the currents will have to find them! thanks Kate and Lazaro!

  16. Gorgeous!!!....just pass it thru the screen :)

  17. I would enjoy going to the Farmer's Market; love the happy hour recipes=it's nice to change it up sometimes, thanks!

  18. Thanks Kate for sharing such wonderful happy hours drinks :) And thanks Lazaro for sharing her with us :))

  19. Lovely drinks and looks refreshing. It's nice to meet you here Kate. Great post.

  20. Mmmm.... Happy Hour? LOVES!
    Currants are always so lovely but I've never had the privelege of seeing them in the flesh. Our farmer's markets always have 99% vegetables and 1% meat. Hopefully there will be some fruits.
    Great post!

  21. Now this looks like something I might be able to tackle this evening :)

    Have a wonderful weekend, Lazaro!

  22. A truly refreshing post! Laz, you weren't kidding about the badass mixologist part! Thanks for sharing your talent and time Kate :)

    I know which one I want - the Currant Affair. That has my name ALL OVER IT!!


  23. Thanks for sharing some fun drink recipes with us, Kate! I have to get my hands on some cardamom simple syrup - or make some :)

  24. soo lovely drinks :) and i think is so tasty....

  25. Love that currant martini! Very unique!

  26. strange things those cocktails...can put anything in's a combination of a beautiful see through glass...noise that the ice makes (we ladies love that), the combination of colors, taste...alcohol at a minimum for those of us who can't bear to say we don't drink at all...
    farmers every part of the city has one...mine is just a 10 minutes walk along the Danube river...and basil keeps the mosquitoes and bugs away (besides it's use in food),...just love rubbing the leaves between my fingers for the aroma to intensify...don't shy away from the berries..rasberries freeze beautifully...especially if you dip each one in crystal sugar place in a tray in the freezer and then when they freeze put in a bag....

  27. Lovely drinks! That currant martini sounds good and it has a very appealing blush color.

  28. oh how wonderful!!!!!!! Lovely captures and refreshing!!!!

  29. I just love farmers markets!! I wish we had them all year long, and more markets like they do in Europe! and those cocktails sound so refreshing!

  30. last year, my roommate got a massive amount of red currants from a friend's CSA and we had NO IDEA what to do with them! Thanks so much for sharing this drink recipe..this year I may even PURPOSEFULLY seek out some red currants just to make this!

  31. I WISH I bought the currants at the market, doh! These drinks are amazing, just beautiful. I love the gin currant martini as well - would love to try it with my favorite, Hendrick's gin.

  32. great drink perfect for this summer heat, lovely presentation...


  33. Just giving you a heads up, I'm posting the Currant Affair on my blog tomorrow. Be sure and tell Kate too. :)


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