The credit for this mix goes to Lucy Brenenan. I first saw this idea in her Hip Sips book of cocktail recipes. The idea came to her while eating a beet salad. She uses it as a base for a vodka sour called “The Ruby.” From that name you know she is using red beets. Her bar apparently goes through 10 bottles a week of the stuff. The recipe is here and here. She uses a 1:1 simple syrup per Hip Sips.
Lately I’ve been on a tear with golden beets. They showed up in our local markets a few months ago. They looked interesting so I brought some home and roasted them. The earthy flavor with a little sweetness is very enjoyable. I never would have thought to put them in a drink, but once I read about it, I was ready to try. Using golden beets would be my contribution.
The recipe calls for 1 ½ pounds of beets to 1 liter of vodka, infused for three days, “no more or less.” The liter measure makes it very scalable. For my first attempt, I thought I had enough beets. After peeling and dicing, the beets weighed in at 14 oz. That’s 58% of the 24 oz called for in the recipe, so I mixed my batch with 580 cc of vodka. I used some Tito’s that was sitting around. (Don’t get me started on the virtues of one vodka over another)
The vodka takes on the color of the beets fairly quickly. You get a beautiful colored vodka. I strained them out at three days. The aroma is striking. You really smell the beets. Amateur Cocktail Gal used the word “earthy” to describe it without any prompting. That word comes up a lot when people talk about beets.
We started off mixing up some sours using my standard recipe: 2 oz base liquor, 1 oz citrus juice, ½ oz 2:1 simple syrup. This cuts back a bit on the 3 oz of vodka called for in the original Ruby recipe. It was good, but the lime was a tad too prominent. Better to go with the whole 3 oz pour. The drink color is beautiful, and it seemed to hold a frothy head from shaking longer than other drinks I’ve made. I’ll keep the gemstone theme and call it a Citrine
Getting creative, I substituted ½ oz of Cherry Heering (I had some open) for the simple syrup. Good, but needs a whole ounce next go round to bring the cherry flavor up a bit more.
Final trial was to substitute a ½ oz of crème de cassis for the simple syrup. Cassis has an earthiness of it’s own that I thought would compliment the beets. This one was a keeper. The main disadvantage though was the final color. It was muddy. Appropriate for a drink based on earthy flavors, but it would probably have looked better in a red beet infused vodka. BTW this would be called a Vodka Cassis, one of a series of drinks that mix base spirit, citrus and cassis. (That from the Cocktail Database). I suppose you could also use a vintage, LBV or ruby port in place of the cassis.
Initial assessment: Neat idea, beautiful color in the vodka and pleasant flavor. Drinks made with it should highlight the color and the beet flavor. A simple stirred martini with dry vermouth with maybe a dash or two of an herbal bitter is the next mix to try. Or, maybe a Gimlet or Vesper variant…
What next? I have two more small batches going – one using silver tequila and the other one using gin as the base. “Earthy” can describe Tequila so that seemed like a match. The herb flavorings in the gin have the potential to marry with the beet. We’ll see. Also, chioggia beets showed up at our local market. Might be worth a try.