This post came about for five reasons:
1. On our second night visiting Charleston, my Mom, sister and I were dead-tired following a day of sightseeing. We had had an enormous lunch at Husk earlier that afternoon so when dinnertime rolled around we were only a little hungry with no plan to do anything but ‘wing it’ – which is pretty much my favorite thing ever to do on vacation as I think you can find some of the best spots that way (Reservations-Schmezervations!). We ended up at another Sean Brock establishment – Minero – as tacos and a cocktail sounded like the perfect cap to what had already been a wonderful day. Because I was only having one drink (Code for: order the coolest sounding/most potent cocktail on the menu!), I chose an Estrellita made with hibiscus tea, cinnamon, lime, mint and vodka. The combination of flavors was so tantalizing that I decided on the spot that I would have to recreate it at home. I also ordered another.
2. My sister is a very big tea drinker. At a family event a couple of weeks ago, she was sipping on a hot pink hibiscus blend that garnered a lot of attention based on its shocking color. At one point my Aunt stole a sip and declared “This would be even better with a shot of vodka in it!”. That right there reminded me that I must do this.
3. If your Dad’s cousin in Florida sends you an enormous case of limes straight from the tree in his backyard, you are obligated to do something wonderful with them. Other than stand over the package and sniff them for a good ten minutes, that is (The scent was intoxicating! I couldn’t help myself!). This cocktail qualifies as something wonderful.
4. Google translator tells me that Estrellita means “Little Star”; a concept I can get behind because this cocktail definitely shines. It tied in nicely to some props – a piece of a Herkimer Diamond, an old sparkly calender page, some crazily dyed reindeer moss – that I have been wanting to interject somewhere too. I am nothing if not all about the props!
5. Today is my Birthday so a libation is in order! This is everything I could want in a celebratory cocktail – not too sweet, special but not weird in a throw a bunch of random ingredients into the shaker kind of way, and it’s pink (!). So pink!
- Cinnamon Simple Syrup, adapted from Food Network
- 2 cups water
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1½ cups white sugar
- 3 mint leaves OR basil leaves + additional for garnish
- Small lime wedge
- 2 ounces of your favorite vodka
- 1½ ounces prepared hibiscus tea
- ½ ounce cinnamon OR cinnamon simple syrupfrom
- To make the cinnamon simple syrup: Place the water and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue to gently boil the mixture for ten minutes (It will smell fabulous!). Off of the heat, remove the cinnamon sticks from the water and stir in the sugar. Return to the cooktop and bring the mixture to a boil again, stirring constantly, just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.
- To make the Estrellita: Place the herbs and lime wedge in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon, press down to extract some of the flavor from the herbs and the juice from the lime. You really want to get the oils from each going here! Top with a couple of ice cubes and the remaining ingredients. Shake! Serve in a glass filled with ice and garnish if desired.