South China Sea

By • October 21, 2014 0 Comments

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South China Sea


Author Notes: My daughter was waiting tables at a fine dining restaurant owned by a Vietnamese chef. His food was sophisticated but the bar drinks were, she thought, embarrassing: lemon drops and appletinis and cosmos. The owner challenged her to come up with a better drink and if they liked it, they would put it on the menu. And so my daughter challenged me to come up with a recipe. I think this drink has intriguing, exotic Asian flavors, is very light and not too sweet. It seems like it might be a bit of a "girly" drink, but my macho martini and bourbon drinking husband is crazy about it. It's very important to use coconut palm sugar for the simple syrup--it won't have the right flavor if other types of sugar are used. Most natural foods stores now sell coconut palm sugar aka jaggery. It can also be found in Asian and Indian grocery stores.zora

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Makes one cocktail

Lemon grass simple syrup

  • 1 cup palm sugar, coconut sugar, or jaggery.
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  1. Chop the lemon grass into small pieces.
  2. Melt the sugar, water and lemon grass together over low heat. Simmer for ten minutes, then turn off the heat and allow the lemon grass to steep in the sugar syrup for an hour or more. The syrup will be dark brown in color.
  3. Strain the syrup into a clean jar, discarding the solids. Add the vodka--this will prevent the syrup from becoming moldy. Refrigerate--it will keep for many weeks.

South China Sea cocktail

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka (I prefer the flavor of potato vodka but YMMV)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Dolin dry vermouth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon grass simple syrup (add more if a sweeter drink is desired)
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger root, peeled and lightly bruised with a knife blade
  1. fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka, vermouth, lemon juice, and simple syrup and one of the two slices of ginger root.
  2. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Add a fresh slice of ginger to the glass as a garnish.

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