Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reason No. 473 on why you should learn how to can

I've been spending the day happily browsing Andrea Weigl's new Pickles & Preserves, a volume in the Savor the South series from UNC Press. It is a pleasant reminder of the joys of canning, a welcome thought on this day when our windows are open to a sunny and mild March afternoon. 

I am reminded of the contentedness that comes from both making canned goods and sharing them with friends, as well as the simple pleasure of opening a jar of something that tastes as seasonal as the day it was sealed. With such good cheer, could one be faulted for using one's own canning pantry to create a cocktail at 4 in the afternoon?

Sad news on a day last summer halted my plan to make Bill Smith's famous honeysuckle sorbet. Rather than pitch the fragrant infusion, I turned it into a simple syrup and placed filled pint jars in a boiling water bath. I hoped for the best, assuming the delicate flavor would droop.

But, oh, it did not. Combine with muddled mint and lemon, a spoonful of jam, a shot of vodka and a splash of soda, and you've got a taste of summer on a not-quite spring day.

Honeysuckle Sipper

Makes one drink.

2-3 fresh mint leaves
1 slim wedge of lemon
1 generous teaspoon raspberry jam (or other flavor)

3 ounces honeysuckle syrup
2 ounces vodka
club soda

Muddle mint and lemon in a cocktail shaker. Add jam and ice, then honeysuckle syrup and vodka. Shake vigorously.

Strain and pour into tall ice-filled glass. Top with club soda and give it a quick stir. Garnish with a mint leaf. (If it's your first one. Otherwise, forget it.)

Rinse and repeat.

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