How you doin’? I hope you are enjoying the summer bounty of beautiful American stone fruit—peaches, nectarines, plums—and berries. When you are just 80 miles or so from the strawberry growing capital of the world—Oxnard, near Santa Barbara—you can get the most perfect, sweetest, beautiful strawberries ever grown. It’s also pretty easy to make a Costco stop and pick up a whole flat of strawberries, but if you’re not buying for the neighborhood, what are you going to do with all of them before they start to spoil? Infuse, of course!
When you are out on the patio soaking up the afternoon sun, doesn’t a nice cool berry spritzer sound great? You might ask yourself--Self, what makes this wine spritzer so special? It contains a 1-ounce shot of homemade strawberry-infused vodka, that’s what! When you get a waft of the strawberry vodka in your nose, it smells just like a fresh strawberry pie. It smells so good you just might be tempted to sip it straight from the bottle. And, if you do, it’s wonderful, like sweet, perfectly ripe, fresh strawberries… with a little kick! In the spritzer, it blends with the added rosé wine and fresh basil, creating a drink that’s lightly sweet, very aromatic, and so perfect for early summer. FYI… I keep a fresh basil plant growing on the kitchen windowsill for just these occasions… her name is Emily. What? You don’t name your houseplants?
Not only does the strawberry vodka smell and taste great, it makes a very pretty strawberry spritzer, too. The rosé and the strawberry infused vodka give it a deep pink blush, enhanced with the basil and crushed strawberries swirling around the ice. This is perfect for warm afternoon happy hours, or a Sunday brunch. So, if you are resolved to a pandemic “staycation” this year, don’t be blue—be in the pink, put on your best blush and enjoy your sunny patio.
You will need to plan ahead. The strawberries need to steep in the vodka for up to a week. But once you have the strawberry vodka, you’re in like Flynn and can make all kinds of cocktails—from strawberry vodka lemonade to strawberry vodka tonics and even grown-up strawberry XXX-rated milkshakes—they’re the “berry” best.
Fresh Strawberry Collins
Yield: 1 serving
1 ounce homemade strawberry-infused vodka (recipe below)
1 strawberry, sliced
2 to 4 basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional—use it if you need it)
3 oz rosé or white wine (Champagne works well also)
3 oz sparkling soda
8 ounces of vodka
1 cup sliced, ripe strawberries, sliced
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