Patriotic cocktails

Drinks created for the Fourth of July by Chris Sanders, bar manager at Sanctuaria Wild Tapas in St. Louis, include: Tequila Mockingjay, Ramos Gin Fizz, Sanctuaria Smash, At The Gate, Planter’s Punch and Leatherneck.

Here are some things you need to help celebrate the Fourth of July: American flags, insect repellent and lawn chairs to watch your favorite fireworks display.

And don’t forget the grenadine, cream and blue curaçao.

As they always say, it’s not the Fourth without a fifth. And if you plan to celebrate America’s independence, there are few ways to do it better than with a cocktail (or three) that allows you to fly your favorite colors: red, white and blue.

Red? Red is easy. You can make red drinks with grenadine, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, creme de cassis, Campari, strained strawberries, cherry juice or red wine.

White? Well, there’s cream, of course. And white creme de cacao, Irish cream liqueur, other cream liqueurs such as Amarula (it’s made from the fruit of the marula tree), milk and even yogurt liqueur.

But blue? Well, blue’s a problem. There is blue curacao. And then there is Windex, which I wouldn’t recommend drinking but at least the spills clean up nicely.

So I asked an expert, Chris Sanders, the bar manager at Sanctuaria Wild Tapas, to come up with some drinks to put a firecracker in your Fourth. He mixed and added, shook and strained, added a dash of this and three dashes of that and produced six summertime cocktails that were cool and refreshing and worthy of Old Glory.

Let’s start with the reds. Planter’s Punch has been around at least since 1878, when a whimsical, rhyming recipe for it was printed in Fun magazine. It’s still so popular that it’s one of the drinks made in competition by the International Bartenders Association.

Sanctuaria’s version begins with dark rum and adds to it fresh lemon juice, fresh orange juice and canned pineapple juice (it tastes good, it’s not too sweet and its quality is consistent, Sanders said). Grenadine and Angostura bitters add both flavor and the desired red color, with sweetness provided by homemade oleo sacchurum.

Sanders told me how to make oleo sacchurum. You might want to use orgeat, an almond syrup, instead.

The Planter’s Punch he made was fruity and refreshing, like Hawaiian Punch with a kick. It would be great for the Fourth or any sizzling summer day.

The other red drink Sanders poured is called a Sanctuaria Smash. It begins with a hefty pour of strong whiskey tempered by lemon juice, strawberries, basil leaves and a hit of cinnamon simple syrup. Then it is all muddled together, shaken and strained into an ice-filled glass.

“It’s so popular we can’t even keep it in stock,” Sanders said, and I can understand why. It is a beautifully balanced drink, with a bit of sweetness playing off a hint of tartness from the strawberries and a soft undertone of cinnamon beneath it all. It was my favorite of the six drinks he made.

White drinks are next, including the famous Ramos Gin Fizz, one of the more storied concoctions from New Orleans.

“It is one of the most annoying drinks a bartender can make. Bartenders hate making this,” Sanders said, explaining that it requires a lot of time and effort.

The drink begins with gin, fresh lemon and lime juices, simple syrup and orange flower water. An ounce of cream makes it white, and then comes the special ingredient, an egg white.

This is the part the bartenders don’t like: You have to give this mixture a double shake. The first time, you shake it vigorously and at some length to make the egg white all nice and frothy. The second time, you add ice to make it cold — again, you shake it with vigor for some time.

Then you slowly pour it into a slug or two of soda water in the bottom of a glass. If done right, and if it works right, a half-inch or so of the froth will rise above the lip of the glass like a soufflé.

It doesn’t just look good, it tastes good: smooth, fruity and creamy. But having to go to all that trouble for a drink that could fail to rise correctly (also like a soufflé) is why Sanders calls it “a pressure drink.”

The other white drink he made is called At the Gate, because it was first created for this year’s Kentucky Derby.

It’s a Derby drink so it has mint, of course, in the form of mint simple syrup. This is mixed with cucumber-infused vodka, lime juice and St. Germain, the elderflower liqueur that was at the forefront of the craft-cocktail revolution.

This is more of a thirst-quencher. A little sweet, a little tart, it is just right for sipping on a porch on a hot day.

And finally, we come to the blue drinks.

The Leatherneck is a classic cocktail that I will admit I had never heard of before. Invented in the 1950s by a former Marine (hence the name, an affectionate nickname for Marines), it combines blue curacao, lime juice and whiskey — Sanctuaria uses Pendleton Canadian whiskey.

Because curacao is a liqueur from the laraha fruit, which is related to the orange, the Leatherneck has a nice citrus flavor. It also boasts a lovely color that is irresistibly blue.

The other blue cocktail is the amusingly named Tequila Mockingjay (“we were trying to figure out how many cross references we can get in one drink,” Sanders said).

It’s tequila, lime juice, blueberry simple syrup and a couple of dashes of jalapeño tincture for a subtle kick. Basically, Sanders said, it is a blueberry margarita.

“It’s simple, it’s easy, it tastes good,” he said. All of which are true. But it’s not quite blue. Even with the blueberry simple syrup, the color is more purple than blue — and on the red side of purple.

Maybe he should have used Windex.

Planter’s Punch

  • 1-1/2 ounces dark rum
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce fresh orange juice
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice (canned is fine)
  • 1/2 ounce grenadine
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Slice of lime, for garnish
  • Sprig of mint, for garnish

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a highball glass packed with crushed ice. Garnish with a slice of lime and a sprig of mint.

Makes 1 serving.

Recipe from: Sanctuaria Wild Tapas

Sanctuaria Smash

  • 2 ounces strong bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce cinnamon simple syrup (see note)
  • 3 medium strawberries
  • 3 large leaves basil, plus 1 for garnish

Note: To make cinnamon simple syrup, bring to a boil 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces, 1/3 cup Demerara sugar and 1/3 cup water. Immediately remove from heat. Let stand 15 minutes. Strain into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and muddle until completely smashed together. Shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a 12-ounce stemless martini glass filled with ice. Garnish with a leaf of basil.

Makes 1 serving.

Recipe from: Sanctuaria Wild Tapas

Ramos Gin Fizz

  • 2 ounces dry gin
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (see note)
  • 4 dashes orange flower water (see note)
  • 1 ounce cream
  • 1 egg white, see note
  • 1-1/2 ounces soda water or seltzer

Notes: Orange flower water (also known as orange blossom water) is available at liquor stores, gourmet stores, Middle-Eastern markets, international food stores and some high-end grocery stores. Do not allow any yolk to mix in with the egg whites; if this happens, discard and use another egg. To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Store in a jar in the refrigerator.

Mix gin, juices, simple syrup, orange flower water, cream and egg white in a cocktail shaker without ice and shake vigorously at least 30 seconds until the whites have become frothy. Add ice and shake vigorously again until ice cold.

Place soda water in bottom of a highball glass. Strain drink slowly into that glass. If done right (this may take some practice), the top of the froth will climb about 1/2 inch above the rim.

Makes 1 serving.

Recipe from: Sanctuaria Wild Tapas

At The Gate

  • 1-1/2 ounces cucumber-infused vodka (see note)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce mint simple syrup (see note)
  • 1/2 ounce St. Germain
  • 2 thin slices cucumber, for garnish
  • Sprig of mint, for garnish

Notes: To make cucumber-infused vodka, place 1 sliced cucumber in a jar and fill with 1 liter vodka (if using a 750ml bottle of vodka, only use 3/4 of a cucumber). Allow to sit for at least one day or as long as 3 to 4 days. Strain into a jar or bottle.

To make mint simple syrup, combine 1-1/2 packed cups fresh mint, 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 2 more minutes without stirring. Strain into a jar and keep refrigerated for up to 5 weeks.

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Dump contents, including the ice, into a highball glass. Garnish with 2 thin slices of cucumber and a sprig of mint.

Makes 1 serving.

Recipe from: Sanctuaria Wild Tapas

Leatherneck

  • 3/4 ounce blue curacao
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1-1/2 ounces Canadian whiskey
  • 1 large twist of orange peel

Combine curacao, lime juice and whiskey in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until shaker is ice cold. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Makes 1 serving.

Recipe from: Sanctuaria Wild Tapas

Tequila Mockingjay

  • 1-1/2 ounces tequila
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce blueberry simple syrup (see note)
  • 2 dashes jalapeño tincture (see note)

Notes: To make blueberry simple syrup, stir together 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a small pan over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain into a jar, pushing gently on the pulp to extract juice. Pushing too hard will make it cloudy.

To make jalapeño tincture, place 4 to 5 cut-up jalapeños and 1 (750ml) bottle of grain alcohol, such as Everclear, in a jar. Cover and allow to sit a couple of days until the liquid turns bright green. Strain to remove the jalapeños.

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously and strain into an old-fashioned glass with ice.

Makes 1 serving.

Recipe from: Sanctuaria Wild Tapas

Daniel Neman is a food writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Email him at dneman@post-dispatch.com

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