Back in Colorado, with the season fast approaching, it's time to take a hard look at the cocktail list. We need something new and fresh this year. It's definitely time to make some changes. Having just spent two weeks cruising the Pacific Ocean, frozen drinks are on my mind. As a little girl on vacation in the Caribbean, virgin daiquiris and pina coladas were a favorite indulgence. Nowadays, kids can get smoothies on every other street corner but back then the only frozen drinks, aside from those at the ice cream parlor, were alcoholic. That made even the non-alcoholic versions seem like illicit contraband made even more delectable by their scarcity in my everyday environment.
The problem with frozen drinks in the restaurant is the blender. The noise that it emits while creating these sensual delights is earsplitting and obnoxious. In a bar as small as ours is, the noise is inescapable and jarring resulting in the banishment of frozen drinks in the past. The challenge this year was to come up with a frozen drink that would have great flavor and texture without the noise. The solution is our new menu of granita based drinks. We have created a series of flavored granitas to serve as the bases for these cocktails. The alcoholic portion of the drink is chilled and mixed separately, then poured over the granita and garnished. The granita melts slightly and disperses through the drink so that sip is slightly different. Some are smooth and purely icy liquid, some are grainy with ice particles and occasionally you can catch a small snowball against your tongue to be crunched or savored as fancy dictates.
Granitas are easily created at home, with no special equipment so there is no reason why our readers cannot share the experience. We've been talking margaritas lately and got a tip from Steve Stallard for using a splash of cream soda to liven things up. The flavor of the soda is echoed in the vanilla salt rimming the glass in the first of our granita cocktails, the granita margarita.
4 ounces mixed lemon & lime juice (approximately 2 limes & 1 lemon)
2 ounces agave syrup
6 ounces cold water
a few grains of salt
Mix all ingredients together and taste for desired flavor. Add additional sweetener or citrus as needed. Pour into a shallow bowl or sixth pan and place in the freezer. After an hour ice crystals should be forming in your granita. Scrapes the pan thoroughly with a fork and place back in the freezer. Repeat every half an hour or so until the mixture is fully frozen. If it seems to solid, just break it up with your fork to the desired consistency.
Granita Margarita (serves 2)
2 Martini glasses
Vanilla salt (optional)
3 ounces tequila
4 ounces cold cream soda
Rim the martini glass with lime juice and salt. Fill glass halfway with granita. Combine tequila and soda in a shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and pour over the granita. Squeeze lime slice over the drink and drop in to finish.