Why is everyone trying to rush into fall? Food bloggers are already putting up apple and squash recipes. Clothing stores are packed with sweaters and jackets. People are drinking pumpkin ales. It's not even September, guys!
Don't get me wrong; autumn is my favorite season. I'm really looking forward to the cool weather and fall colors and my hair not frizzing up within five seconds of leaving the house. But there's an appropriate time for these things, and it's at least a few weeks away. I still haven't done all the summery things I want to do. Fall is just going to have to hold off a bit. And the best way to make that happen is with a few more summery cocktails.
A smash is an entire category of cocktails that I talked about a bit when I made the Whiskey Smash. It's technically a type of julep (as in the Mint Julep). While the interpretations of both drinks have changed over time, the one thing that seems constant is the relative attitudes towards the two cocktails. People can be awfully fussy about their Mint Juleps, and this was even more true 100 years ago. In contrast, the smash is a simpler, throw-in-whatever sort of cocktail. Today they often include citrus juice, which juleps generally lack. They can be made with any spirit from brandy to whiskey - in fact, I've got a Mezcal Smash recipe I can't wait to try. So while the julep is a cocktail you want to get carefully right, the smash is a cocktail you want to have fun with.
I thought this combination of strawberries and balsamic vinegar sounded like great fun, and it was. This particular smash is made with gin. The balsamic adds a very subtle hint of rich flavor to the cocktail. The result is summery and refreshing. If you make the smash correctly - with lots of crushed ice mounded up on top - it also makes a beautiful presentation.
History: The Strawberry Balsamic Smash was invented by Damon Boelte of Prime Meats in Brooklyn, NY.
Strawberry Balsamic Smash2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 lime wedges
2 slices cucumber
1 strawberry, hulled
Combine all ingredients but gin in the bottom of a shaker or mixing glass and muddle to release their juices. Add gin and stir. Double-strain into a rocks glass. It won't look like much, but the ice will make up the rest. Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice and stir. Mound more crushed ice on top. Garnish with a halved strawberry, a cucumber slice, and/or a sprig of mint.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.