kitchen firsts: rangpur gin cocktails

17 April, 2010 at 12:29 am Leave a comment

This week my kitchen firsts series is taking me into as-yet-uncharted blog territory: mixed drink recipes! I’ve never been much of a mixed drink recipe person (er, mixologist?) before, nor have I really been a gin drinker before, but in the last few months a couple of really delicious-sounding mixed drinks involving gin have popped up and tempted me, and it became clear that the time was ripe for a little experimentation.

These two cocktails, the Cucumber-Lime Gin and Ginger and the Rangpur Refresher, were inspired by drink combinations that I saw around recently (one online and one in a bar) but did not get a chance to actually taste, so we went in search of some gin and got to mixing and recreating! Both drinks are amazingly refreshing (with ingredients like lime, ginger and cucumber or strawberries, orange, cucumber and mint!) and make me look forward to the coming of warmer weather and the chance to sit on a deck in the sun with a cold drink.

After working on and enjoying these drinks, I’d like to say that the experience opened my eyes and broadened my palate to discover the loveliness of good plain gin, but that would make me sound much more hardcore than I am. In fact, I’ve discovered the slightly wussier loveliness of Rangpur Gin, which I was really delighted to find I liked so much. If you’re never had it before, I definitely recommend picking up a bottle (I hesitated to buy a whole fifth of something I’d never tried before, but I bet almost anyone would find this drinkable) and you’ll see that it is smooth, tangy, citrusy-bright, and pretty darn drinkable even straight up, a nice alternative for those of us who might find regular gin a little much. Rangpur citrus is a very acidic, lime-like hybrid between a mandarin and a lemon, and the gin that is distilled with it is extremely refreshing (hence me finding two different excuses to drink it). If you’re not as pathetic as I am when it comes to real gin, or if you only have regular gin on hand, you should absolutely make these cocktails with that instead, because they will be good anyway (the recipes that inspired us called for regular gin). But if you do have some Rangpur Gin available, the refreshing limey flavor goes beautifully both with a gingery, limey cucumber kind of profile (see recipe for the cucumber-lime gin and ginger) and with the fruitier mix of the Rangpur Refresher.

So get yourself some gin and fixins, and get to mixing! Enjoy in the sun.

Cucumber-Lime Gin n’ Ginger
Inspired by something we saw at a local bar
Serves 2

A few strips of cucumber per glass (use a vegetable peeler to get at least mostly below the skin, then shave off little delicate strips)
2 oz rangpur gin (cold)
1/2 oz ginger syrup, chilled (1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, small nub of ginger, recipe follows)
1 oz lime juice
2-4 oz ginger ale

Make the ginger syrup: In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water. Peel a small (about 1 inch max) chunk of ginger and chop it roughly into 5 or 6 pieces, toss them in the sugar and water and put it over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until the syrup thickens. Remove from heat and cool completely before adding to your cocktail. You will have some leftover that you can save for another drink, it will keep in the fridge for a week or two! The ginger flavor is gentle enough to spice up a whole variety of beverages.

In two flutes or highball glasses, drop the cucumber strips, then pour 1 oz rangpur gin into each. Add a scant 1/4 oz ginger syrup and 1/2 oz lime juice to each glass, then top each glass off with ginger ale (about 2 oz). Enjoy!

Rangpur Refresher
Adapted from this post on Design*Sponge
Serves 2-4 (but you can use the same amount of fruit, cucumber and mint to serve more by just using more gin and lemonade)

1 orange, rind sliced off, cleaned a bit (remove any pith) and chopped
1 handful of strawberries (you can use frozen if you don’t have fresh), chopped
1 persian cucumber (or 1/3 regular cucumber), chopped
sprig of mint
4-6 oz rangpur gin
8 oz lemonade

In a cocktail shaker (or if you’re ghetto like us, a 16 oz ball jar…), combine chopped orange, strawberries, cucumber, and mint leaves. Muddle with a suitable implement (again, if you don’t have a muddler, find something else–we used the poker from our blender), then pour in lemonade, gin, and a few ice cubes.  Shake, then strain into glasses. Garnish with a sliced strawberry, a sprig of mint, or a cucumber slice. Enjoy!

*Note: if you have a real cocktail shaker and it’s too small to hold everything, you could muddle the fruit and mint with just the gin, and then strain into a glass and top it off with lemonade.

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