This cocktail is the last stop on my journey to finally finding a vodka drink that I enjoy.
Mama Didn't Raise No Quitter Cocktail
I don't always drink vodka, but when I do, I drink this cocktail.
I don’t like vodka…I never really have. There was a time, in college, when I drank a certain vodka drink pretty frequently, called the “Blueberry Bagel,” but, looking back, that can hardly be considered a “vodka drink.” Not only did it include blueberry-flavored vodka, it also had sprite, grenadine and cherries in it. I’m sure my girlfriends and I felt pretty damn cool ordering what we considered a mature cocktail, but, aside from the fact that we were clearly trying to shut down our kidneys by exceeding the FDA-recommended daily dose of sugar in one single drink, we also only wanted to drink things that entirely concealed the taste of alcohol.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to really appreciate certain spirits, but I usually can’t enjoy a vodka drink where you can really taste…well, the vodka. I adore gin, and whiskey and I get along just fine, but when it comes to vodka I just don’t enjoy the taste, which actually kind of bothers me a bit. I mean, if it’s good enough for Diddy, shouldn’t it be good enough for me? I realize that being bothered by not liking a food or beverage might sound strange (and like, pseudo-alcoholic), but hear me out: cooking, eating and drinking – and everything that goes along with those things – are some of my greatest passions in life. I devote a ton of my time to not only preparing food and drink for other people, but also to trying new food and drink in exciting and exotic locations. I put a premium on being able to go to a new restaurant or city and partake in every novel, traditional, trendy or fun food and drink-related experience it can offer. I never shy away from a new (or just plan weird) cuisine, and I don’t want to opt out of trying something simply because I never learned to appreciate or enjoy it.
Admittedly, that’s never happened with regard to vodka, but I’ve seen it happen to friends, coworkers or acquaintances in the case of certain food and drink. Clearly, if you’ve tried something a few times and you truly don’t like it, you shouldn’t have to choke it down for the sake of the group, but, if you really haven’t given something a fair shake, or if you keep having underwhelming experiences with a certain dish or beverage, then I think you should see what you can do about it. If there’s a preparation out there for ceviche that’s gonna make you believe that a big ‘ole bowl of raw fish can be enjoyable, I firmly believe you should try it at least once. If you find yourself at a friend’s dinner party face-to-face with a bowl of split-pea soup that she swears is nothing like the stuff your grandma used to make, I say grab your spoon (and maybe the salt-shaker) and give it a go. Bottom line: if there’s something you don’t think you like, but the last time you had it was when you were six, or at a cafeteria in college, or it was cloaked in artificial flavoring, grenadine and sprite…give it another go. After all, it’s fun to find new things to enjoy, and it gives you that many more opportunities for shared experiences with other people, in other places…which is pretty much what life is all about, right?
That sentiment is where I got the inspiration for this vodka cocktail, which is called the “Mama Didn’t Raise No Quitter,” because, even though I don’t like vodka all that much, I still try it out once every few months in the hopes that I’ll find a way to enjoy it. This time, I succeeded. I infused the vodka with fresh rosemary and combined it with some fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice. Served over ice with a splash of ginger ale for some effervescence, this is one vodka drink I will definitely not be quitting any time soon. It’s got a really great (and totally drinkable) blend of tartness, sweetness and earthiness, and the vodka taste is subtle, but not covered up. Here’s how I make it:
For the rosemary-infused vodka:
Pour 2 cups vodka of your choice (I’d advise using something cheap – I may not like it, but I know better than to ruin high-end vodka with DIY infusions) into an air-tight container and submerge a large sprig of fresh rosemary under the alcohol.
Store in the refrigerator and shake once or twice a day for three days or longer.
Note: I stored mine in the fridge because I wanted the rosemary to remain refrigerated in order to stay as fresh as possible. If I were infusing the vodka with something like lemon, I wouldn’t worry as much as about refrigerating it. The vodka itself is fine to remain at room temperature, so whether you refrigerate it during the infusion has to do with the ingredients you choose to add to it.
For the cocktail:
2.5 ounces rosemary infused vodka
3.5 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice
Combine the vodka, juice and ice in a drink shaker and shake for 20-30 seconds. Pour into 8-ounce glasses filled with ice and top with a splash of ginger ale. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Find pool. Lay down on lawn chair. Sip and enjoy.