In the world of specialty cocktails, it's hard to find a bartender who doesn't preach the importance of quality mixers. The idea is that if you're using premium spirits, you should also be using top-notch mixers.
I was first introduced to Social, a brand of canned sparkling sake, at the noodle-slurping hotspot that opened in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood almost three years ago: Ichicoro Ramen. While waiting for a table, I took the opportunity to explore the wonderful beverage menu (if you're at Ichicoro's downtown St. Pete location and looking for a kickass cocktail, BTW, look no further than the Black Mage). I bounced around a bit during our visit, testing out different drinks, but my better half kept it simple with cans of Social.
Offered in a few flavors, Social is sold in four-packs at grocery store giants like Publix, as well as any decent liquor store. For this week's cocktail, we're incorporating the variety she couldn't resist ordering that night: hibiscus cucumber.
I initially started playing around with gin as our base spirit, and it worked really great — then I remembered the tasty cocktail I recently had with bison grass-flavored vodka, Żubrówka. Yep, you read that right — bison grass. The Polish vodka complements the sake (and the elderflower syrup you're gonna make) so well that I knew we had a winning combo.
When I say the following recipe should be your go-to for the remainder of the season, I mean it. The drink tastes like springtime in a glass — light, effervescent, slightly floral, refreshing and delicious. It's just perfect. Mix one up for Mom on Mother's Day, and I promise she'll love it.
Flora & Fauna
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 elderflower tea bags
In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat, then add elderflower tea bags. Cover and allow to steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Keep covered and refrigerated for up to 1 month.
1 1/2 ounces Żubrówka Bison Grass Flavoured Vodka
1/2 ounce Elderflower Syrup (or substitute with St-Germain)
1/2 ounce lemon juice
3-4 ounces Social Hibiscus Cucumber Sparkling Sake Wine
Add Żubrówka, elderflower syrup and lemon juice to a cocktail mixing glass. Stir until well-chilled, about 20 to 30 seconds. In a rocks glass filled with ice, strain in your cocktail. Top with Social and garnish with a lemon wheel.