Spiced Pineapple Summer Cocktail on its way to you this week before Memorial Day. I’m welcoming summer with a summery citrus cocktail series and this first one is where I wish I was versus where I am: Toes in Sand(box). We’ve got mandarin, pineapple, spiced liqueur and whiskey with a smidge of coconut water to keep things light. Add in a little grapefruit bitters and you have an easy to make summer sipper.
I had a hard time coming up with a theme for this week. I had more requests for summer or patriotic drinks than anything else. I’m not feeling patriotic given the way the US leadership has handled the pandemic, so I defaulted to summer drinks. Cocktails with whiskey and citrus translate to summer for me, whether served over ice from a pitcher or built one by one in a mixing glass and served neat in a chilled coupe with a fancy garnish.
Some people argue whisky and bourbon are fall and winter spirits – whiskies warm you up when cold and ease your symptoms when sick. But I would argue that a whiskey cocktail over ice refreshes more so than most other summer drinks, especially paired with citrus. This spiced pineapple summer cocktail is a perfect example.
As an example, I created this Toes in Sand(box) cocktail. Normally I would be preparing for a week at the beach with my toes firmly ensconced in sand and my nose in a book. But, with the quarantine, we’re all looking for ways to recreate that summer experience at home. So, I’ll be sinking my toes in a sandbox next week while we have our early summer stay-cation and sipping on easy-to-drink citrus cocktails like this one.
Previously, I’ve made pineapple syrup before using the cooked method where you put fruit, a little water and sugar in a pot on the stove and simmer for a bit to get the juices out. But what if you want the taste of fresh pineapple instead of cooked pineapple? Chop up your pineapple, add an equal weight of sugar, stir and let the sugar draw out the juices over several hours. It may take a bit longer, but the taste of fresh pineapple (rather than cooked pineapple) sings in this syrup. You’ll love it!
I let mine sit on the counter for about 8 hours, strained it and added a bit of vodka to it to help it keep in the fridge. From a medium pineapple I made about 10 oz of pineapple syrup. If you’re a tiki fiend, this is an amazing way to make your own pineapple syrup!
I love the sweet-tart taste of mandarins this time of year, too, so I wanted to make a cocktail that used both pineapple and mandarins for flavoring. But I needed something bitter and spicy to cut through the sweetness. So I added some Besamim spiced liqueur from Sukkah Hill Spirits – it’s similar to an allspice liqueur, but more complex in its flavor. Given the sweetness we’re getting from the citrus, a healthy dose of the Besamim will cut through the sweetness to balance it in the spiced pineapple summer cocktail.
When I put those together with the whiskey it was still missing something in the mouthfeel. Adding a little coconut water did two things – the little bit of fat from the coconut water made the mouthfeel much smoother and appealing. It also gave it a slightly tropical taste with just the idea of coconut on the palate. I have several citrus bitters, but in this case, the Bitter Truth’s grapefruit bitters are the ones to go with here.
Since this is the first weekend in Kentucky we’ll be able to gather in groups of 10 or less, I’m also including batching instructions. This makes ten or less cocktails, so I’m hashtagging #10andUnder on social media. It’s just the right amount to make for everyone to have a cocktail on our first weekend gathering in small groups.
(For those of you curious about the other recipes in the Quarantine Series, I’ll put them here before you skim past to get to the recipe. We had Quarantine Highball week (Highball Whiskey Spritz and a That’s No Moon Lavender Orange Highball, It Ain’t All Sunhine and Peaches, Petals to the Metal Hibiscus Highball and a Root Beer Highball. ) Quarantine Donut cocktails (Maple Caramel Long John, Pecan Sticky Bun cocktail and Blueberry Cake Donut, Boston Cream Cocktail and Apple Fritter Cocktail). Quarantine Juleps, (Breakfast Julep, the Pineapple Sage Rum Julep, Elvis Julep (peanut butter-banana), Root Beer Float Julep, and the Persian Julep (rose-apricot) ). Quarantine Old Fashioneds (Breakfast Wakey Wakey, Smoke and Spice, Home School, Taco Truck, and Campari/Bitter Lessons ). Quarantine Manhattans (Balanced Perfection (Perfect Manhattan), Coffee Manhattan, Chocolate Ginger Manhattan, French Quarter Manhattan, and the Caramel Orange Manhattan.) Quarantine Whiskey Sours (Blackberry Sunset, Whiskey Tiki, Blue Mood Orange, Ya Basic, and Peach Rosemary). Quarantine Smashes (Whiskey Smash, Blackberry Sage Smash, Pineapple Tiki Smash, Strawberry Basil Smash and the Coffee Cherry Smash.)
Toes in Sand(box)
- ¾ oz pineapple syrup**
- ¾ oz Besamim spiced liqueur (substitute St Elizabeth Allspice dram if needed)
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 oz coconut water
- 1 juiced mandarin orange
- 18 drops grapefruit bitters
- Garnish: dried orange chip or chocolate dipped mandarin with a sprig of mint
- Combine pineapple syrup, Besamim liqueur, bourbon, coconut water, the juice of one mandarin orange and bitters in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake until ice cold, and strain into a tall glass with one large cube of ice. Garnish with mandarin slices – preferably dipped in chocolate.
Toes in Sand(box) Batched
- ¾ cup pineapple syrup**
- ¾ cup Besamim spiced liqueur (or St Elizabeth Allspice dram)
- 2 cups bourbon
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 cup mandarin orange juice
- 1 to 1.5 tsp grapefruit bitters
- ¾ to 1 cup water
- Garnish: mandarin orange slices or drop the spent mandarin halves in the side of the glass with the ice, mint sprigs
- Combine ingredients including water in a large bottle. Check the flavor and add more bitters as needed and more water for dilution as needed. Shake well and put in the fridge until well-chilled. Serve over large ice cubes with mandarin orange slices and mint garnishes.