Cocktail hour for Marwen Foundation

 fiber sculpture (artist unknown)

 painting, Suzie Makol

sketchbook, Regin Igloria

We did a cocktail hour last night at a benefit for the Marwin foundation, an awesome program that offers visual arts classes to under-served young people in the Chicago community.

In honor of National Watermelon Day, we made a watermelon gin fizz. 

Watermelon Gin Fizz
2 oz watermelon juice
3/4 oz lime
3/4 oz orgeat syrup
1 1/2 oz gin
Angostura bitters

Shake watermelon juice, lime, syrup, gin and strain over ice.  Top with soda and garnish with mint sprig and a few drops of bitters.

Notes:  In a pinch you can substitute simple syrup for orgeat syrup, but we felt the orgeat syrup gave the cocktail a nice complexity.  To juice watermelon, we used a food processor and strained pulp through damp cheese cloth. 

Party Batch  (makes approximately 40 drinks)
1 handle of gin (1.75 L)
1 med/large watermelon (10 cups/80 oz watermelon juice)
1 batch of orgeat syrup below (30 oz)
30 oz fresh squeezed lime
2 x 2L soda water

Premix everything but soda water and mint.  Pour individual drinks over ice from pitcher and top with soda and mint.

Orgeat Syrup
1 1/2 almonds
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1/8 tsp orange flower water

Toast almonds and let cool.  Cover with cold water and let soak for 30 min.  Strain and chop pretty fine in food processor.  I have used pre-slivered almonds to save time and they chop more easily in food processor.  Cover chopped almonds with 3 cups water and let stand for 2 hours.  Place damp cheesecloth over strainer on top of bowl.  Strain almonds and water, squeezing cloth to extract all liquid.  Add almond pulp back to water, let soak for another hour and strain again.  Repeat again if time allows.  The flavor of the syrup will come from the oils and fat in the meat of the almonds which you are helping to release in squeezing process.

Strain once more and discard almond pulp.  Warm liquid gently over mild heat and add sugar stirring until fully dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Add brandy and orange flower water.

Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.  Shake syrup if separation occurs.

Note:  I have made this syrup several times.  This is a recipe I have adapted from one we found on the Chanticleer Society.  I cut back the orange flower water significantly from original recipe and added more water and sugar to the almond ratio.  If you are soaking almonds overnight which is perfectly fine, place in refrigerator to prevent fermentation.   

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