An Autumn Cocktail made with butternut squash-infused vodka is just the thing to help us gleefully put the summer sandals away, get out our warm sweaters and turn on our ovens to roast butternut squash. The squash is not for soup which warms the tummy; it’s for vodka which warms the spirit.
While this might sound a little bit out of the ordinary, I have two sets of party guests to tell you that the Winter Squash Cocktail from the Savory Cocktails cookbook is such a charmer for all types of drinkers, and will become our Fall tradition, and our Thanksgiving signature cocktail.
When asked to review a copy of Savory Cocktails, I jumped on it, not because I needed a free cookbook, but because, the author, Greg Henry, is my friend and a fellow food blogger. I’ve eaten his food and his cocktails.
While I know he’s good at what he does, he’s even better at what he writes. He’s whimsical, sophisticated, understands that it’s 2013, but has a great respect for retro food, vintage cocktails and where his good taste comes from. He’s also a food and beverage geek, passionately researching ingredients, recipes and culinary history. He not only knows how a cocktail should taste, he knows how it should look, which is presented through his exquisite photography.
Savory Cocktails is right in step with the cocktail movement of the last few years which has resurrected many old time cocktails and has found new uses for various bitters in combination with fresh ingredients and artisan salts. Greg will walk you through the basics of bar tools and proper glassware, and then will stroll you through cocktails by his chosen savory categories. Take your pick.
SAVORY COCKTAILS: Sour. Spicy. Herbal. Umami. Bitter. Smoky. Rich. Strong.
He pays attention to what people are drinking, but he also nudges us all along in the book by introducing us to some very unique cocktails, and the Winter Squash was one such drink.
I needed something fun for a party and this was a much bigger hit than I had expected. While Greg doesn’t include a sweet category, this particular cocktail has some sweetness from simple syrup, but not so much that the vodka and spices can’t be enjoyed for what they are.
The vodka is infused with roasted squash for five days, and then mixed with lemon, lime, simple syrup. and the Autumn spices we love….cinnamon and nutmeg. Even the non-cocktail lovers loved this drink, and several people asked for the recipe. I used Putinka vodka, which is a very decent Russian vodka at a good price. Go ahead and infuse the whole bottle. Maybe two bottles. Halloween and Thanksgiving are perfect opportunities to treat your guests to a special cocktail.
Greg used a sage leaf as a garnish. It’s a nice touch for an Autumn Cocktail made with butternut squash-infused vodka.
The next cocktail I want to try is the Beetle Juice, which uses beet-infused vodka or gin, and the Smoke Jumper, if I find some lampsang souchgong tea, which will be mixed with some Chartreuse that I already have on hand. The tea is a black tea (smoked) as it dries over a burning pinewood. That recipe tells you just how interesting the cocktails are.
So tell me, do you like to serve cocktails during the Fall holidays and have you ever infused your own vodka?
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound)
- 1(750 ml) bottle vodka
- ½ cup squash-infused vodka
- 2 tablespoons/ 1 fl. ounce simple syrup
- 1 tablespoon / ½ fl. ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon / ½ fl. ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 big pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 big pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 sage leaf, as garnish
- Bring sugar and water to boil together in saucepan, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to low until a syrup is reached, about 4 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
- Store in a airtight container in refrigerator, up to 30 days.
- Roast squash at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the skin blisters.
- Allow to cool. Peel skin off, remove seeds, cut into chunks.
- Place in a mason jar or glass container with a bottle of vodka.
- Set in a cool place for five days.
- Remove the squash from the vodka. Strain with mesh strainer into a clean jar.
- In a cocktail shaker combine vodka, simple syrup, ice cubes, lemon juice, lime juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Shake vigorously until well chilled.
- Strain into cocktail or martini glass.
- Garnish with more cinnamon if desired and a sage leaf.
- The original recipe calls for cinnamon and nutmeg to be used as a garnish only, but I liked mixing it all together. This makes one serving, but the entire recipe will make 8 or more.
Disclosure: An advance copy of Savory Cocktails was sent to me for review from the publisher.