DIY Food

Joaquín Simó's Pearls Before Swine (A Yogurt Cocktail)

July  2, 2014

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: How to get a light, frothy summer cocktail without egg white, or heavy cream, or shaking forever. The answer is -- not so obviously -- Greek yogurt. 

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It's a good thing you have a tub of Greek yogurt in your fridge right now, because it's going to rock your summer cocktails. 

Feeling a little funny about that? You're not alone. When I asked Jeff Morgenthaler, who was visiting our office last week and knows good drinks, how he felt about a yogurt cocktail, his first response was: "Ew." But as soon as I told him the other ingredients, he was on board.

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." 

More: For every kind of ice (and iced drink), you'll want to see this collection on Provisions.

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.

Joaquín Simó's Pearls Before Swine (A Yogurt Cocktail)

Adapted slightly from Joaquín Simó of Pouring Ribbons 

Serves 1

2 ounces gin (we like Vikre from our friend fiveandspice)
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce orgeat (Simó likes Small Hands Foods or Orgeat Works)
1 heaping teaspoon Greek yogurt
1 heaping teaspoon lemon curd (we like Alice Medrich's recipe)
3 drops rose water

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • mrslarkin
  • Lina Calin
    Lina Calin
  • fiveandspice
  • sarabclever
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. 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."


mrslarkin July 4, 2014
Yay! Breakfast cocktails!
Lina C. July 3, 2014
Sounds delicious! Greek yogurt in everything! Is there something I could make or maybe buy to replace the orgeat (nut allergy)?
fiveandspice July 2, 2014
Healthy cocktail booze meringues!!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3 :)
Kenzi W. July 3, 2014
Amen to that. (And to those.)
sarabclever July 2, 2014
I love that you posted this. I just had a yogurt cocktail at Sarma here in Boston and it was amazing. Raki, chartreuse, and yogurt. I love yogurt, but was still skeptical. Ended up having two! I figured I'd never see a recipe that was even in the ballpark, so thanks!
Allison July 2, 2014
Isn't Sarma so good?? The next time I go, I'll have to try their yogurt cocktail. Thanks for the tip!