Gin + Pineapple: Level Class

Let’s continue our gin and pineapple adventure from the previous post but add a touch of class. This variation is a great choice to impress a date or a gaggle of guests (which is convenient given that many of you will likely be cooking with your sweethearts for Valentine’s Day or gathering for football festivities this Sunday). While the flavor profile of this cocktail has more dimension, it’s still surprisingly easy to prepare. Winning all around.

The story of how this cocktail came to be starts with a confession: I have trouble staying focused at grocery stores. By “trouble staying focused,” I mean that I tend to wander into the aisle containing natural/exotic juices and mixers and majorly nerd out. This often results in me carrying home significantly heavier groceries than I had bargained for. Luckily, it’s usually worth it and my excitement to try something new propels me home in record time.

On one such trip to an average grocery store (Jewel, for those of you who are local to Chicago), I discovered Sipp soda. I generally use Izze or San Pellegrino in my drinks as they’re both relatively low sugar and high flavor for a reasonable price. Sipp drew my eye in the natural aisle due to the creative combination of flavors in each soda. I settled on the Lemon Flower (lemon, elderflower and tarragon) and Ginger Blossom (ginger, vanilla and lime) though it took a lot of self-control to not buy them all. Yes, it’s pricier than a bottle of ginger ale. However, it uses high-quality ingredients, avoids artificial flavors/low quality sweeteners (meaning less chance of a hangover) and elevates your cocktail making adventures without much effort. One bottle will also give you enough for 4 drinks without compromising on flavor.

This recipe uses Lemon Flower Sipp soda, along with gin, pineapple juice and a touch of lemon. It’s wonderfully easy to make in bulk (I whipped up 12 glasses for my family’s Christmas party) and doesn’t require any complicated tools (just something to stir with).

Gin + Pineapple: Level Class

  • 2 oz gin
  • Roughly 3 oz pineapple juice (evenly split the 8.5 oz can between 3 glasses -> you can also split between 2 glasses to avoid waste without a significant effect on the drink’s flavor)­
  • 3 oz Sipp Lemon Flower
  • ¼ lemon

Fill a rocks or tall glass approximately 1/3 full of ice. Top with first 3 ingredients and add the squeezed lemon quarter. Stir to chill and blend. If you’re feeling extra classy, top your glass with a lemon slice or a sprig of fresh tarragon. Serve to those you wish to impress and consequently feel extra impressive.

Emerald Elixir

Companionship is important when you are a hobby mixologist. Companions allow you to test your creations and enable your craft with new and exciting ingredients. In one such situation, my husband, Will, surprised me with a liqueur after I finished a grueling written actuarial exam (and several months of no social life). I had been dreaming of this liqueur for months and was overjoyed to receive as part of my cocktail arsenal. Did I mention Will has excellent powers of observation (for which he is often rewarded in Valcohol)?

That liqueur was green Chartreuse - a magical herbal concoction originally created by French monks in the 1700s from over 130 different plants and flowers. You may have seen it on the menus at fancy cocktail bars and wondered what to expect from an ingredient you can't pronounce ("shar-troose"). Having tried it on its own, I've found it packs a punch of herbal, sweet and slightly bitter flavors. This means a little bit goes a long way and the price tag is more than justified for the concentrated complexity you'll get out of it. I chose to pair it with one of my favorite gins (Terroir by St. George), green apple shrub, ginger liqueur and lemon juice. The result was slightly sweet, deliciously herbal and greater than the sum of its parts.

The Emerald Elixir

  • 2 oz gin (I recommend a more complex gin - something with more than just juniper flavor)
  • 1 tbsp each of:
    • Green Chartreuse
    • Ginger liqueur
    • Lemon juice
    • Green apple shrub
  • 2 oz filtered water (alternatively, you can top this cocktail with sparkling wine after shaking the above ingredients with ice and straining into a glass)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with a couple of ice cubes per cocktail and shake vigorously until frosted. Strain into a small stemmed glass and enjoy while discussing the awesomeness of French monks (optional).