For the past several months, my friend Sly and I have been trying to see the film Winter’s Bone, but thanks to Sly’s unpredictable nature, we were never able to nail down a time to see the flick in the theaters, and thus we missed it. Thankfully, the DVD arrived in my mailbox last week, courtesy of Netflix, which meant we could finally watch the damn movie. Making matters even more exciting was the arrival of a free bottle of Stoli vodka, which had been sent to me for review by the good people of Stolichnaya. Free booze + a long anticipated DVD viewing? Sounded like a recipe for fun.
Even more thrilling was the revelation that Stoli happened to be Sly’s favorite vodka. Her swoons of joy were unparalleled in nature except for perhaps the deep mating call of a restless penguin. We soon got to work fixing an intriguing cocktail from Paul Abercrombie’s Organic, Shaken, and Stirred. This little number was called the Sun Gold Zinger and featured cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, salt, agave nectar, and vodka. Sure, it didn’t quite fit thematically with a film about Appalachian poverty, but we really didn’t care. We were intrigued: would this be a second-ran Bloody Mary or a fine concoction that could stand on its own? Results after the jump…
Our mis-en-place. We actually were not using the snap peas, but Sly brought them over in case we wanted to make more of the transcendent Snap-Pea-Irinhas.
We start with three cherry tomatoes per drink. The directions call for orange ones in order to achieve the “gold” in the Sun Gold Zinger, but alas, all Sly could find were red cherry tomatoes (she was on cherry tomato duty).
Preparing for juicing duty.
Sly captures the excitement of a freshly sliced lemon.
In search of a reamer. I’d like to announce that this drawer of gadgets has now been upgraded to a drawer of spices, as per Ina Garten’s suggestion in her cookbook, How Easy Is That?
With all my tools handy, I commence the squeezing operation.
Since we were only making two drinks, I didn’t bust out the juicer (in case you’re wondering why I’m using the ol’ reamer.)
One ounce of lemon juice; an infinite amount of fun.
The juice joins the tomatoes in the shaker, along with a healthy pinch of salt. The recipe calls for sea salt, but kosher would have to do IN A PINCH (get it?).
And so begins a round of intense muddling.
One must muddle until the tomatoes are decidedly mashed.
Next, I must liberate the Stoli from its cardboard prison.
After what feels like an eternity of prying, grasping, and scissor-ing, I finally get the box open.
The big question was whether this would be a small bottle or a big one. Drumroll, please…
A special moment.
Measuring out the all-important vodka.
Into the magic shaker it goes.
Pouring the second ounce. A rather peculiar angle of me.
I accidentally poured too much vodka, and since I like to be exact with measurements the first time I make a recipe, I poured the vodka overflow into the bottle cap, squeezed some lemon juice into it, and fed it to Sly, who lapped it up as if it were her life’s blood.
We now pause for an agave moment.
With the agave nectar and ice in the shaker, I get to business shaking vigorously.
Sly gets to work on the garnish. The directions say for the cherry tomato to be impaled on a toothpick and strewn across the brim of a martini glass, but my picks just weren’t long enough for that. Sly instead opted to drop them squarely into the depths of the glass.
I pour out the contents of the shaker (strained), and lo and behold! A beautiful sight!
Because of our red tomatoes, we decided to rename this drink the Sunset Zinger. It certainly looked entrancing. No wonder this cocktail is featured on the cover of Organic, Shaken, and Stirred.
And now the tasting…
I really don’t know what to expect. In my experience, tomatoes must be super fresh to be flavorful in a cocktail. I’m somewhat fearful that this drink might underwhelm.
They don’t call this drink a zinger for nothing. It truly does attack with a zing, so much so that I clearly had an involuntary Target Lady reaction. “It’s a MATCH!”
Clearly I’m amused at myself for some reason.
Back for more…
The verdict? As you can probably tell from my reaction, I greatly enjoyed this drink. It certainly packs a punch though — and not from an alcohol standpoint. The flavors are sharp — sort of like a potent glass of V8. It all works though: between the salt, the agave nectar, the lemon juice, and the tomato, there are a lot of intense flavors going on, and by the time I got to the bottom of my glass, those intense flavors only, well, intensified. This is one unexpected drink and certainly one of the better ones we’ve made. It certainly is one of the most aesthetically pleasing. If nothing else, it’s certainly a zinger.