By The Gentleman
When I was little my family would always have prawn cocktails as a starter before Christmas lunch. I hated it. I just can’t get over the texture of raw seafood. Everyone always said when I got older I’d grow accustomed to the taste, but I never did. For some reason, instead of having a prawn cocktail I would have a bowl of grapes (served in the same fancy glass as everyone’s prawn cocktails). This may sound like a punishment, but I loved it. I would just chow down on grapes and look at everyone else like they were the weird ones. I don’t have a bowl of grapes now, but I still always associate Christmas with eating grapes and that’s the inspiration behind our very grapey festive cocktail, Grape Time.
45 ml Alaskan Rock Vodka
45 ml White Grape Juice
5 ml Grand Marnier
15 ml Grape and Balsamic Shrub
Grapes for Garnish
In a mixing glass half filled with ice mix vodka, grape juice, vermouth and Grand Marnier until chilled. Strain into a champagne flute. Add crushed ice, grapes and top with soda water. I cut a few grapes in half and put them in the glass and then slit one so it could rest on the lip of the glass. Grab your shrub and pour it in over the back of the spoon to get a layered effect. Add a pretty straw so you can mix in the shrub as you desire.
All of this stuff is pretty easy to find except the grape shrub. I made that myself by macerating grapes in sugar overnight before transferring it all to a mason jar with balsamic vinegar, which was left in the fridge for a week and the grapes were strained out. I use a 1:1:1 ratio for shrubs. If you don’t have the time to make it don’t stress, the shrub gives a slightly different flavour but was mostly for presentation.
This was exactly what I wanted, something that was oh so grape flavoured to bring me back to Christmas when I was younger. Vodka is the perfect partner because it doesn’t interfere with the flavour of the grape juice. Vermouth is also an obvious choice, adding a slightly herbal flavour and keeping it from getting too sweet but not veering too far away from that lovely grape flavour. If you can make the shrub then I encourage you to do so because it not only makes the drink look impressive, it also gives it a little bit of bite and something different. We are definitely fans of what balsamic can bring to a cocktail and it paired really nicely with the grape juice. It was basically an explosion of sweet, light grape flavour with a hint of fizz that was topped off by some booze soaked grapes at the bottom of the glass. I certainly didn’t get to eat those Christmas day, but I wouldn’t be turning them down now.
The Grape Time isn’t your normal festive cocktail and that’s okay because it’s damn tasty. Just roll with it, it’ll be fine and while you’re at it, have a bowl of grapes on Christmas day. It’s not weird at all…right?