Often on Mondays, I haul in a batch of whatever I have cooked over the weekend for a sack lunch, and share some with my colleague C, as payment for explaining to me over and over, with a fair amount of patience, the difference between a rules vote and a motion to recommit.
He is not a habitué of the kitchen -– when not Hoovering down my lunch offerings and then tossing the empty Tupperware in my general direction with a “You can actually cook really well,” his general culinary choices veer between Popeye’s Chicken or all manner of soup from the Senate carry out.
In short: C is never going to be part of an office pot luck.
But he recently did something even better. The only thing he loves more than an order of chicken with biscuits and red beans or soup crumbled with a pack of Cheez-It that he ransacked from the press gallery snack drawer are the Florida ruby red Indian River grapefruit sent to him from his in-laws. Last week, he generously handed two of these juicy citrus mamas over to me.
After pondering some fruit tarts on the site, I remembered that my friend Joshua would be in town, and so I decided it was time to try a new cocktail. I decided to check out Yuzu, I zu by Teri, for which I used the aforementioned grapefruits but with which you can make any of the citrus the author suggest.
I infused my simple syrup with the basil, though in truth I could not scare up the full amount here, which was not a problem as I still picked up a lot of the herb’s flavor. I waited impatiently for it to steep, cutting up my grapefruit, wiping down counters, asking the Incipient Pescetarian why she waited until Sunday at 7 PM to tell me about an extensive French class project; you know, the usual.
Finally, it was all ready to come together in a few large glasses with lots of crushed ice, without the help of a cocktail shaker (which would have been great here) but rather a chopstick used as an aggressive stirring implement. Ahhhhh.
A few points here: the author says that yuzu is very sour, and so I can see why you need so much sugar to balance that, but this ratio for grapefruit was too much for me, and I cut it with a bit more juice. Joshua’s wife, Jennifer, pointed out that basil and grapefruit are a pleasant and surprising mix of flavors and that the seltzer added just the right amount of exciting effervescence. I agree on both counts.
If you’ve got a deck nearby, or a friend with same, I suggest you mix a few of these babies up and stand there, wrapping your sweater around you as the sun sets, watching a robin red breast skitter across the yard. Both the drink and the scene are a harbinger of good days to come.
I pondered mixing up two and sneaking them to the Hill for Happy Hour. But I know C will have a Budweiser already waiting.
MAKES ENOUGH SYRUP FOR FOUR TO SIX DRINKS. REPLICATE AS NECESSARY.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup basil
- yuzu juice (unsweetened), or fresh grapefruit, lemon, lime juice, or a combination
- For the Syrup: Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water into a saucepan. Heat until dissolved. Add about 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves. Let steep for 15 minutes. Pour through a sieve, reserving syrup. Chill.
- When thirsty, mix equal parts syrup, yuzu and vodka. Pour over ice. You could get fancy and get out the cocktail shaker, or you could invite a slurp of club soda along. And if there's no yuzu at your house, a mix of grapefruit and lime juice would be splendid. Enjoy with a squeeze of lime. http://gingersaltpeachlime.blogspot.com/2007/09/yuzu-i-zu.html
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.