I recently came across this post from Serious Eats for a Balsamic Strawberry Smash cocktail. At first, putting vinegar in my cocktail didn’t seem that appealing. My childhood memory of smelling it whilst dyeing eggs at Easter time quickly flashed before me. In recent months, however, I’ve had the delight of using it in a nice vinaigrette dressing on a spinach and strawberry salad. So why not?
I refer you back to Serious Eats for the exact recipe, but this cocktail is surprisingly easy to make. Most of your time will be spent making the strawberry syrup. If any of you have experience making simple syrup at home, or better yet, your own real pomegranate grenadine, then you will find what I think is an easier way of doing things.
Instead of waiting days for the strawberries to lend their flavor to the syrup, I altered the process by adding a little water to my strawberries, lemon peel and granulated sugar. I felt it was necessary because after two hours, they had not lent any of their juice to the pot. I applied heat as directed and I came out with a thinner, albeit still on the rich side, strawberry simple syrup. I might add that you may wish to make a bit more of this syrup. Once you taste this cocktail, you will be having another.
I muddled four large, plump strawberries with a thin slice of lemon. Adding my strawberry syrup (made the night before) to the fruit along with the balsamic vinegar and bourbon to a cocktail shaker, I was ready to shake the daylights out of this one. I mean, you really have to shake a cocktail like this. As I mentioned before, my strawberry syrup came out pretty thick…almost like honey or agave nectar, if that will give you a frame of reference.
After shaking, I poured the drink into a pre-chilled cocktail glass using my cocktail strainer and fine mesh strainer, which I find is apperopos to use on shaken cocktails presented this way as to catch the shards of ice. However, you will need it for the simple reason, you don’t want fruit pulp in this cocktail, much less those little seeds from the strawberry. I found it necessary to use my bar spoon to keep the strainer clear and aid in the filtering of drink.
All of this work was definitely worth the effort. The balsamic seemed to accentuate the strawberry flavor and helped balance out the cocktail. I used Buffalo Trace bourbon on this one, because it has worked well in sweet drinks in the past. I like sweet drinks, but not my favorite. This cocktail seems to get the balance right, pleasing those that prefer sweet over strong flavors and vice versa.
I’ll definitely add this one to my favorites list to make when having company over!