Simply It

We had another amazing meal this past Tuesday, co-hosted by Grub With Us, at Lincoln Park's charming Vietnamese restaurant  Simply It.  Both the company of our fellow diners, and the food were fantastic.  

We enjoyed the challenge of creating two drinks to accompany our Vietnamese Cuisine for the evening.  For our first drink we used the Mojito as inspiration.  We chose basil and lemongrass to mix with gin.  We topped it with soda and bitters, creating a refreshing beverage to pair with our appetizers and start the night off.

South Pacific
2 oz London Dry gin
1 oz lemongrass simple syrup
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
sprig of basil

Muddle basil, syrup and lemon in glass.  Add gin and stir.  Top with ice and soda water.  Garnish with a basil leaf and 3 drops Angostura bitters.

Notes:  You may want to  roll this drink back and forth in a shaker, or give it a nice stir before serving.  For a more refined drink, strain and serve in a coupe glass.  Float a basil leaf for garnish.  

For our second drink of the evening we used the Sidecar as our inspiration.  We thought something  bright with pear and star anise flavors would be a nice accompaniment to the entree portion of our family style menu.  By making a pear and star anise syrup we came up with a nice variation on a classic drink.

Indochine Sidecar
2 oz Cognac
1oz pear star anise syrup
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake and strain into chilled martini or coupe glass.  Garnish with star anise.

Notes:  Time really helps to develop flavor in this pear-star anise syrup.  The longer you simmer the pear, water and sugar mixture, the more caramelized flavors you will develop.  If the syrup reduces, you can always add more water.  We simmered the pear syrup for an hour over the stove and it really made a  difference in the finished cocktail.  Experimentation is encouraged.  Also, remember the star anise garnish will highlight the anise flavors in the cocktail.

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