Why does the idea rattle us? Is it because we think of yogurt as a weekday breakfast food, and cocktails as something that should never happen at weekday breakfast, unless there's a problem?
We're already using Greek yogurt everywhere else, and now it's time to get behind trendy bartenders on this one. It's a lazy, arguably healthy, and -- most importantly -- delicious way to get frothy and creamy cocktails, without making them heavy. Think of it like your subtler, classier new piña colada.
For your first yogurtini (just kidding -- don't call it that), try this one from Joaquín Simó, the award-winning bartender who was serving these fizzy little numbers at the Lucky Peach James Beard Awards after-party at Má Pêche -- at which I was not drowning my sorrows after losing to Adam Sachs and which everyone totally remembers in sharp detail.
After the party, I tracked down Simó to find out what was in the drink, and, as he explained how he got there, it made a lot of sense. His inspiration was the Ramos Gin Fizz, which traditionally involves both cream and egg whites, shaken till very frothy.
"The Ramos (long a hated weekend night order at cocktail bars due to its requisite long shaking) perfectly achieves an airy, creamy texture that allows the gin and citrus to shine," he explained. "It's like drinking a boozy meringue."
Here, he took the gin and lemon juice and added Greek yogurt for tang, body, and creaminess (without adding sweetness). Then he softened it with orgeat (an almond syrup common in tiki drinks like Mai Tais), lemon curd, and a few drops of rosewater. It sounds like the drink could veer off into Phrostie territory, but it won't.
The sweet ingredients come in restrained doses, and they're grounded by botanicals and gentle acid, and, importantly, well-distributed ice shavings.
After crushing your own in the blender, "You'll end up with some very fine snow as well as some small- and medium-sized bits," says Simó. "The bigger bits will give you some texture and the fine shavings melt immediately (giving you both dilution and coldness)." Just like a smoothie!
Alternately, you could shake vigorously and double strain, which will make serving up your smart new summer cocktail all the flashier.
Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].
Joaquín Simó photo by Food GPS; all other photos by James Ransom
The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."