Of course, anytime is cocktail time. One might argue that the classic cocktail party is more appreciated during the colder months when people gather together to keep warm. And like cookies, cocktails are a sometimes treat. I won’t deny that I enjoy a good drink, but I won’t condone them becoming a bad habit.
That said, I present the Sweet Clementini. An easy-to-sip martini, sweet and tart with a hint of citrus and the color of a lazy Southern sunset. It came about as part of my experiments with sweet tea and vodka–not sweet tea vodka.
I believe sweet tea vodka is a brilliant invention, however sweet/iced tea is a very sensitive subject depending on which side of the Mason-Dixon line you’re on. I was born just north of it, but raised well south of it and my experience of iced tea varies from overbrewed and over-sweetened to sun-brewed and flavorful. My father, bless his heart, likes his tea to taste like brown sugar water. I prefer to be able to detect the flavor of the leaves used, but I do like it pretty sweet, using the ice to temper the sweetness. Still, most sweet tea vodkas ride a middle level, focusing on sweet, almost candy-like alcoholic liquid. I figured, since one can easily make sweet iced tea (I’ll reveal my secret method for fast-brewed iced tea at a later date) and a proper drinks cabinet should always have vodka on-hand, why couldn’t I just add one to the other to suit my own tastes or the tastes of the drink I was crafting?
It’s a very simple recipe and owes more to classic mixed drink than martini proportions:
- 2 parts clementine flavored vodka
- 3 parts sweet (southern style) iced tea
- 3 parts cranberry juice (100% juice–not cocktail–used)
Shake over ice and strain into a martini glass, or make in larger portions and serve over ice. But as you can see, it’s a much more pleasing presentation in a martini glass, especially with the right lighting! The name was given by the folks over at Madtini who host a constant Mad Men-inspired cocktail party on their blog and twitter. There is only one company I know of making clementine flavored vodka, but any citrus–sweet, not grapefruit or lemon–vodka should work, or you could buffer it with an orange flavored liqueur.
Because of the lower alcohol to mixer ratio, this one will not get you instantly hammered, and it probably will raise the ire of martini purists. If you want a more boozy cocktail (or potential shot), change the proportions to equal parts of all three ingredients, but I suspect this is middle of the road enough to be enjoyed by both your lightweight and seasoned drinking buddies. On a warm Spring or Summer day, when you’re hanging around in your apartment with the windows open, or on a roofdeck with friends overlooking the city, I guarantee that a round of these will fit the bill perfectly. I’m going on record now and calling it my signature cocktail for the season.
… though I’m certain that it won’t be the last.