I’ve got one foot in the door to spring, and one kinda hanging out back in the winter room. And this cocktail is the perfect embodiment of that.
I am so pumped that spring is officially here, according to the calendars, but I almost don’t trust that it’s reeeeally here until April arrives. March is just too…fickle. As well evidenced by the snowstorm we had a couple weeks ago. It’s supposed to be in the 70s (!!!) again this week but was in the 30s overnight this past weekend. See? Completely fickle. I just don’t trust it with my emotions. Once April is here, I’ll be rejoicing the change of seasons more officially.
This cocktail very accurately represents my state of mind right now. Half in spring, half in winter. It’s my twist on a lemon drop.
Some of the lemon drop elements are still traditional: sugared rim, lots of lemon flavor, and it’s served in the daintiest of glasses. Some of my changes include swapping in gin for the vodka (although vodka works really well here, too, if that’s your preference) because it’s my faaaaaave and infusing some simple syrup with lemon AND sage. That’s right. I put warm, peppery, savory sage in our drinks.
Trust me. This works.
On that note, let me just pause to say that I definitely prefer more floral gins to piney tasting ones, so I recommend using a Hendrick’s or Bombay Sapphire here. They work better with these flavors and lend themselves to a lighter, smoother martini. If you are new to or wary of gin, I highly recommend you try one of those brands. It miiiight just bring you over to the dark side. C’mon over. You know you wanna. It’s fun over here. Promise.
The lemon and floral notes of the gin work wonderfully together. Add in some sage and now you’ve got a party. The sage is warm and slightly savory and also works really well with those other flavors. The sage in this drink is not at all overpowering; you just get hints of the sage-y warmth in the back of your throat, which I love. The lightness of the gin kind of brightens things up, too, so you don’t feel like you’re drinking an herbal concoction.
The lemon helps with that too! The almighty lemon does it again. I am completely enamored with that little yellow fruit. It seriously gets my mojo going, especially when we’re talking cocktails. It adds a bright citrusy note that you just can’t get from ANYTHING ELSE on earth. And you all know by now that I just love anything lemon flavor. I’m the weirdo who PURPOSELY picks out all the lemon Skittles or Starbursts or Sour Patch Kids from the bag. Yes. Before the cherry. Before the grape. Before all the other colors. Yellow/lemon is my jam.
And I’m not apologizing for it! Lemon rocks my world.
And so do these martinis! They’re what we all need on this spring Monday. Drink ’em up before April gets here!
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
8 fresh sage leaves
Sugar, for rimming the glasses
½ cup gin (or vodka)
2-4 tablespoons of the syrup (to taste)
Juice of ½ a lemon
Lemon twists, for garnish
Sage leaves, for garnish
Combine the water and sugar in a sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the lemon juice, zest, and sage leaves and simmer for a minute or two.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the zest and sage to steep in the syrup until it cools to room temperature.
Strain out the zest and sage and store the cooled syrup in the fridge until you are ready to use.
Run a lemon wedge around the rims of two chilled martini glasses. Dip the rims in sugar to coat.
To a shaker filled with ice, add the gin/vodka, syrup, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds to thoroughly mix and chill the ingredients.
Pour the mixture into the two glasses and garnish each with a lemon twist and a sage leaf. Enjoy immediately.