This year we hosted a Cocktails & Costumes party the evening before Halloween. There were four spirited drink choices available to guests as well as a variety of the usual non-alcohol options; soft drinks, cold and hot tea, coffee, and a non-alcohol Hot Toddy. I’ll share each of the recipes in separate posts over the next few weeks.
Gin Punch has always been a huge hit at my parties so I made it again this year. Three batches of it in fact! Get that recipe here. Some people have an aversion to gin. They tell me they just don’t like the taste, but absolutely LOVE this gin punch. I use New Amsterdam Gin for just this reason. It’s a terrific mixing gin with lighter juniper notes than hardier gins. The average punch bowl holds 24 cups of liquid. Keep that size in mind when mixing punches.
Ruby Fruit Martini
The Rubyfruit Martini was a huge hit with guests. I made several batches up in advance so guests could pour their own drinks without need for mixing and shaking. This drink was so successful all the batches were gone within the first hour. I’ll make more next time, promise!
The drink was inspired by my editor. She attended one of my couples recipe testing parties a while back. She told me about a grapefruit martini she’d had several years prior. It was her favorite, but she’d never been able to find another like it. I played around with various concoctions for a few weeks and came up with the recipe below. It’s a little involved, but so worth it.
1 ounce New Amsterdam Gin
1-1/2 ounce Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
1/2 ounce Candied Grapefruit Syrup*
Grapefruit Twist or Candied Grapefruit Peel*
Place all liquids in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a thin sliced grapefruit peel twisted over the cocktail to release essential oils. Cocktail can also be garnished with a candied grapefruit peel.
Candied Grapefruit Syrup
2 cups Granulated Sugar
Water + 2 cups Water set aside
1 rounded tablespoon Ginger Paste or minced Ginger
1 ounce Vodka
Peel the skin off two fresh grapefruits making sure the skins are as thin as possible. 1 inch by 4 inch strips work best during the drying phase.
Place grapefruit peels in a large sauce pan with water covering the top of the skins. Bring to a hard boil. Remove from heat and strain water from pan. Cover the peels with fresh water. Bring to a hard boil. Strain water from pan. Do this process three times. After the third boil, strain the water from the pan.
Place grapefruit peels, granulated sugar, ginger paste or minced ginger and 2 cups of water into the saucepan. Bring to a soft boil. Allow mixture to boil for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture will thicken.
Remove from heat. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a heat proof container such as a large glass measuring cup. Allow syrup to cool. Once syrup has cooled transfer the liquid to a glass bottle with lid. Add 1 ounce of vodka as preservative to the bottle. Refrigerate when not in use. This yields approximately 1-1/2 cups of syrup. With vodka preservative this syrup should stay good at least 4 to 6 weeks in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Candied Grapefruit Peels
1 cup Granulated Sugar
Boiled Grapefruit Peels
While the grapefruit syrup cools, place boiled grapefruit peels in a single layer on a cooling rack to dry. The peels are very hot, so use tongs or gloved hands when handling.
Allow peels to dry for several hours or overnight. They should be tacky to the touch rather than wet. Place granulated sugar on a shallow plate. Gently roll each grapefruit peel in the sugar and return the peels to the cooling rack. This drying process may take several hours or overnight as well.
Store fully dry, sugared grapefruit peels in a cool, dry area in a sealed container. Enjoy the peels while they are at their freshest.
Word of Advice: Making the grapefruit syrup takes about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The candied grapefruit peels need at least 24 hours from start to finished drying time. Possibly more time depending on humidity in your area. I would suggest making the syrup and peels up at least a day or two in advance. If you’re hosting a big group, make plenty.
Erin from Her Heartland Soul and her husband were guests at the Cocktails and Costumes party. She wrote a little about the party and took photos of some of the food. Read her take on the party here. Unfortunately I only took one photo the entire night. Next year I’m bringing the photo booth back so we can get a second look at all the great costumes.
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Cheri Loughlin is the Omaha writer and photographer behind www.intoxicologist.net and author of Cocktails with a Tryst: An Affair with Mixology and Seduction. You can email Cheri with comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.