For many of us, changes in season are just better with cocktails. If that’s you, here’s some good advice: find an expert and learn how to make a proper drink. This opportunity popped up recently, when I attended a Spring Mixology class hosted by the fantastic Laura Grimmer, owner of The Perfect Pear in Chester, CT.
Eleven women gathered on the rustic grounds of The Lace Factory in Deep River, CT. Side-by-side around an alfresco spread of cheeses, crackers and homemade warm focaccia, we sipped seven different cocktails and were educated on some key points of the art of mixology.
Mixology expert Ashley Cappiello captured our imagination with her out-of-this-world concoctions—including the secret of the perfect “muddle” (mix)—while preparing a racy Raspberry Mojito. Laura would chime in too, pairing cocktails with cheeses and giving us tips on how to arrange a perfect bar for home entertaining.
In the end, I was less swayed by the amazing bourbon, gin and chipotle-infused tequila than by “Tea Time”—an infused earl grey vodka paired lightly with lemon juice, honey water, mint and seltzer. I envisioned myself sipping it on a cool spring day, with a refreshing gin-soaked cucumber ribbon swimming around.
We all left inspired to muddle and concoct libations for our own guests, using the following recipes. Also, make sure to stop by Laura’s adorable shop, The Perfect Pear in quaint Chester, CT. From the hand-woven serving accessories to the French kitchen towels, you’re going to love this boutique.
3 Cocktails by Mixologist Ashley Cappiello
The Tohil (named after the Mayan God of fire)
1 1/2 oz of chipotle infused tequila
1/2 oz of Pierre Fernand Dry Curaçao
1/4 oz to 1/2 oz slow burn simple syrup
Garnish: Cilantro Pepper Salt and Agave
Dip the rim of a rocks glass into agave. Gently roll the rim of the glass in the cilantro pepper salt. Set glass aside.
In a shaker, muddle cilantro and spicy simple syrup. Add ice. Combine tequila and Curaçao. Add fresh sour to cover ice. Shake vigorously. Pour into rimmed glass. Garnish with lime wheel and cilantro.
Summer in London
3 oz London dry gin
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 simple syrup
4-6 basil leaves
3-4 slices English cucumber
Garnish: cucumber ribbon
In a shaker, gently muddle cucumber and basil together with lime juice. Do your best not to tear the basil. The goal is to gently release the natural oils. Add ice, simple syrup, and gin. Shake vigorously. Double-strain into coupe glass (stemless martini). Garnish with cucumber ribbon.
Tea Time (writer’s pick*)
2 oz of Earl Grey infused vodka
1/2 oz of honey water
3 mint leaves
Garnish: mint sprig
In a shaker, gently muddle the mint with the lemon juice and honey water. Again, try not to tear the mint as you are trying to release the oils. Add ice. Shake. Pour into rocks glass. Garnish with mint sprig.