Drinking Through Jersey

I wouldn’t say my home state of New Jersey is know for cocktails….come to think of it, I can’t think of any form of alcohol it’s really known for.  Maybe over indulgence.  But I believe in smashing stereotypes, so it was with an open mind and mouth that I visited the Garden State last week.  My first stop was at the lovely Tewksbury inn — it was a wine night but I managed to sneak one drink.  I sadly can’t find their cocktail menu so I’ve forgotten the exact ingredients other than the strong whiskey and orange bitters — this was a powerful drink that quickly smacks you in the face.  It was good, one to savor.  I was impressed with the variety the restaurant–which looks a little sleepy on the outside–offered, so get out there and throw a few down.

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With a hour-long torrential downpour in the background, it was a fitting day to visit the Shipwreck Grill.  This is where I had one of my favorite cocktails which, luckily, they added that very day: the Gin and Jam.  Simple, lemon juice, gin, and blueberry preserves.  Money, absolutely money — the blueberry tinge was just strong enough and worked perfectly with the lemon spark and gin burn.  Ah my mouth is watering as I write this:

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I then had the watermelon sangria.  It was fine but watermelon continues to underwhelm as a cocktail base (more on that later):

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Also scored one last cocktail at Delicious Heights.  This place was fun and had a ton of attractive cocktail offerings — unfortunately, I only had time for one and made a poor choice with the Mayflower, which brings Lillet Blanc, Raspberry Tea, Pomegranate Juice, and Burlesque Bitters.  Sounds delicious right?  But it just didn’t work and ended up being watery and forgettable.

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But I wasn’t just in receive mode — even without my home tools, I was responsible for the Watermelon Margaritas at a family party.  The recipe was pretty simple but challenged me to do two new things – 1. deshell an entire watermelon and 2. use an automatic citrus juicer.  The first is actually surprisingly easy — take a look at this video provided by Cooking Light:

http://bit.ly/1pU2Ohw

And here’s the recipe:

3 1/2 cups cubed seeded watermelon
1/2 cup tequila
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)
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The real joy of this process was giving the ol Black and Decker a whirl.  What a revelation — the CJ625 saves your wrist and also digs out a ton of juice.  Much more efficient than a hand juicer; I got the same amount of lime juice out of 15 limes than I did out of 30 with a hand juicer.  I’ll never go back.
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I also had the idea of using frozen watermelon cubes in lieu of ice cubes, an invention I think I heard on Martha Stewart 10 years ago.  Funny what sticks with you.  Anyway, the finished product was ok — I’m sorry, I just can’t get behind watermelon as a base for cocktails.  The taste always comes across as too watery and almost shy, especially up against tequila.  Still, people loved the punch and it went quick.  Plus, it dresses up real pretty.  I’d feel comfortable putting this out anywhere, from a local picnic to a fancy lawn party.
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