Saturday, May 19, 2012

Preakness Vodka Lemon Stick Cocktail

Today is the running of the Preakness in Baltimore!  Some of our happiest moments were spent in Charm City enjoying the hot, humid weather, freak Nor’easter snow storms, crabs, corn, melons and proximity to Ocean City.  Glorious years! 

Baltimore traditions abound in the Spring.  May brings not only the second leg of the Triple Crown and the wildly original American Visionary Arts Museum Kinetic Sculpture Race (“amphibious, human powered works of art custom built for the race” that travel and race through the streets of Baltimore AND across the Harbor to the finish line), it also brings another iconic Baltimore tradition of the celebration of Spring – the Flower Mart.

Kinetic Sculpture Race - 2010
Every year since 1911, vendors have covered the Mt. Vernon area with hundreds (thousands?!) of flats and pots of flowers for mi’lady’s garden.  Back in the old days, it was THE spot for genteel city women to strut their lovely fashions (including some crazy hats!) while choosing just the right floral accents for the window boxes and planters in front of their very upscale row homes in that part of the city.   

While the ladies and their children strolled along the street choosing floral colors and textures, they often were spied sucking lemons through a peppermint stick.  Oh, don’t turn up your nose, these treats are a sweet, tart, minty treat called Lemon Sticks that are still favorites of kids and adults alike at Flower Mart.   

A couple of years ago, I brought out a bunch of these delightful little treats for the neighborhood kids …now they frequently come over to the deck to see if I might just have some Lemon Sticks hanging around.  LOL…Joe told me he LOVES that Baltimore food!  I've been known to make snowballs on the deck, too, for the kids....yet another Baltimore thing....the snowball machine was invented in Baltimore!

And so, I’ve created an adult drink that honors both the Preakness and the Flower Mart.  This is intended to be extra tart to balance out the sweet peppermint rim, so be SURE to rim the glass - otherwise, you'll miss the true taste of a classic Lemon Stick.  Why shouldn’t we adults enjoy a little Baltimore Spring treat of our very own?

Preakness Vodka Lemon Stick

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 large, juicy lemon
  • 2 oz. simple syrup
  • 6 drops Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters (or Angostura)
  • 3 King Leo soft peppermint sticks (check Amazon for availability), crush 2 finely, leave the other whole for garnish*
  • lemon slice for garnish
  • ice 
Squeeze the lemon into a cocktail shaker, add the vodka, simple syrup and Bitters.  Add ice cubes 3/4 of the way up the glass, cap, shake until the tin frosts. 

Rub a cut lemon on the rim of a martini glass; dip rim into the crushed peppermint, covering the rim completely.
Strain the cocktail into the rimmed glass, garnish with a lemon slice, insert the peppermint stick into the glass and suck the cocktail through the peppermint stick.  It may take a couple of sucks to start the flow, but the wait and anticipation is part of the experience!  If you don't have the patience, just sip around the peppermint-ed rim...same effect!
*Soft peppermint sticks are a touchy breed.  Too soft and the peppermint stick simply melts into the lemon, too hard and there is no way, no matter how hard you suck, that you are going to get any juice through that thing.  You'll strain your cheeks first!  King Leo makes the perfect stick.  It isn't easy to find in stock, so when you spot it on Amazon, BUY IT THEN!  Even put your name on the list to be notified when they're available.  I do....and I just got my summer order!

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