Today I'm highlighting a really simple appetizer in order to focus on the apéritif side of the Friday equation. I'm telling you, in addition to The Bardstown Sling during Christmastime, this joins the ranks of cocktails you MUST try, unless you have a strong aversion to fresh basil, in which case I don't think we can be friends any longer.
So first things first. When dinner is hours off and your minions are dying a slow, painful death from starvation, whip this sucker up and tell them to join the theater with their dramatics. Gather some brie cheese, some high quality crackers (I used mushroom and truffle flatbreads. Delicious.), about 1/4 cup of slivered almonds and some fancy marmalade or fruit spread. Look for something that is all natural and doesn't contain a bunch of preservatives or added sugar.
On to the star today - the most delicious Apéritif I've had in quite some time. It is stellar.
In mid-February a friend of mine had a craptastic day. And an equally stinky night before the crummy day. Which I find nearly impossible, because she lives in FLORIDA for crying out loud. Even still, I guess bad juju doesn't pardon people who get to bask in sunshine during the worst winter in decades. But I digress.
I paused at this picture on her Facebook page, her caption stating that this drink ROCKS and lifted her spirits. You could say that it had me at basil.
Seriously stupid simple. Equal parts honey and hot water. Mix. Add some slices of fresh ginger. Or some mint leaves, if that's your thing. These little plastic containers are completely useless, but I finally found a purpose for them. They now hold a couple of variations of simple syrup in our refrigerator. Ideally, you should make this in advance so the ginger has a chance to snuggle up with the honey and water.
The other problem I had with The Tower Smash is that I am just not a tequila fan. At all. Perhaps it has something to do with the "LICK IT, SLAM IT, SUCK IT!" days of my youth, or the incredibly offensive aftertaste I seem to be unable to shake when drinking it. So needless to say, when I began gathering the ingredients to make my version of this cocktail, there was no tequila in the house to help me out. So instead, I decided that Jimmy's Russian vodka needed some basil love.
Cut the other lemon in half and put one piece in a cocktail glass. This is optional, but it enhances the color and the taste. I didn't squeeze mine - I just plopped the whole thing in there, cut side down. I added a few ice cubes and after shaking the mixture up with ice in a shaker, I strained it over the glass. You really need to strain the drink with a fine meshed sieve, otherwise little bits of basil will be floating in your drink.