I think the paths of obsessive cocktail geekery eventually lead all to the same point. Namely, after you’ve fully rounded out your home bar to the point where you frighteningly have individual shelves for your ryes, rums, gins and so forth, you find yourself daydreaming about making your own booze – or the closest thing thereto. While California’s cornucopia provides options like Meyer lemon, Buddha’s Hand citron, or Seville orange for some kick in the pants limoncello, there is quite a lag between initiation and gratification. So while waiting for the two month soak of my orange tincture to finish for a batch of DIY Amer Picon, I decided to experiment with summer strawberries.
The Ferry Building Farmer’s Market is always a go-to place for the frou-frou-est in fresh organic produce. One of my favorite vendors is Swanton Berry Farm near Santa Cruz. In addition to growing some of the sweetest, tastiest, juiciest California Certified Organic strawberries on the planet (and the best strawberry jam I have ever tasted), they also get mega-kudos for being the first organic farm in the country to sign a labor contract with the United Farmworkers of America AFL-CIO. Tasty berries and labor-friendly to boot!
I took a pint of Swanton’s berries, sliced them and put them in a jar with a bottle of Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond 100 Proof Rye Whiskey. The berries did battle with the R100 for a little over a week until the red in the berries had completely leached out leaving the fruit a ghastly white. It was actually quite cool looking. I strained the liquid a few times in cheesecloth to remove as much of the loose organic matter as possible and bottled the now cherry red colored whiskey. Needless to say, it tasted like a summery, boozy strawberry pie.
2 oz. strawberry-infused rye
1 oz. sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica)
2 dash rhubarb bitters
orange peel & strawberry slice, garnish
Combine rye, vermouth and bitters with ice and stir. Strain into glass and garnish with orange peel and strawberry slice.