Blue Skies in Winter
February has us longing for blue skies. This riff on a classic Aviation cocktail will transport you to warmer climes. Why not escape with us tonight?
Sours can be warm drinks too
When winter is heavy and gray around us, we seek refuge in warming drinks. For me this doesn’t mean the drink has to be warm in temperature, or be super boozy, or full of mulled spices and earthy things. Rather, I’m seeking richness and intensity.
During the colder months, many of us gravitate to whiskies and brandies and other aged spirits. And rightly so. Some of the great winter cocktails are built on aged spirits like whiskey or brandy. I’m looking at you Mr. Manhattan.
But I’ll submit that one of the best ways to combat winters chill is to drink your drinks up and eschew the ice in the glass. This can work with sours as well as Manhattans. Serving a drink up keeps the drink from changing.
During the summer, the risk is that the liquid will warm up before you can drink it. This doesn’t happen in the winter when ambient temps are low enough. Take advantage! It’s basically the best thing about winter other than snow days.
Inspired by the Classics
The Blue Skies cocktail was inspired by the classic Aviation cocktail (gin, lemon, maraschino, and crème de violet). Like the Aviation, we get a beautiful blue tone. And the Maraschino warms the cockles of our hearts with its rich cherry flavor.
This recipe drinks “warmer,” emphasizing the maraschino in harmony with the herbaceous gin and tart blueberry. Shake or stir, whichever you prefer.
I used Luxardo Maraschino1. For the gin I’m not looking for too much juniper character here. I’ll reach for Beefeater when entertaining a crowd because you can buy it really cheap in handles. But for the wife and I on a Friday night, a more floral gin like Hendricks or Blue Coat is lovely.
Here’s the recipe:
Blue Skies Cocktail
- 1 oz Shrub District Blueberry Basil
- 1.5 oz Gin
- 0.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
Shake, strain, serve up, garnish with fresh blueberries
Fun Fact: blueberries are in season in the heart of winter… waaaay down south. The Southern hemisphere crops from Peru, Chile, and Argentina are in full swing in February. But those berries are $$$$, so maybe save them for garnish?
Like this recipe? Share it with your friends! Take a picture of your variations and tag us on Instagram @shrubdistrict.
1A note about Maraschino: This Italian cherry liqueur was once the signifier of a true “cocktail bar”—seeing it behind the bar was a guarantee of quality libations. It’s a staple in classics like the aforementioned Aviation, the Last Word, and (depends who you ask) the Hemingway Daiquiri. I have a soft spot for this unctuous liquid because of my time living in Northern Italy. And it’s dang good. It harnesses the unique aroma and flavor of Amarena cherries which grow famously in the Dalmation coast. The most famous brand is Luxardo, wrapped in straw, but it’s also produced by Bols, Lazzaroni, Maraska, and among others.