Over Easy is a weekly food column by a 20-something woman who can barely cook an egg and just wants to learn how to throw together an elegant three-course meal for her friends.
I started mixing cocktails when I was 9. That’s when my dad first taught me how to make martinis. The ones I created were apparently “very good,” but given that I was 9 and the drinks were also “very strong,” I think the grading scale was pretty forgiving. Still, it was a great set up for us: My dad had a party trick with which to entertain his friends, and I, a needy, theatrical child, got to eat my weight in olives and be the center of attention while adults said things like “Oooh,” and “Aaah,” and “Uh…” A win-win.
Unfortunately, my bartending skills have deteriorated significantly over time. In college, my preferred cocktail was Burnett’s Pink Lemonade flavored vodka and Sprite, or, if we ran out of Sprite, a handful of almonds. And then, after I graduated and finally realized alcohol didn’t have to taste like a unicorn’s sour spunk, I switched to wine, which requires no mixing at all.
But wine has its limits, especially when one is day drinking, my third-favorite summer activity after hiking, and sitting in a dark, air-conditioned room watching Netflix. Although rosé is touted as the definitive summer drink, after a couple of glasses, all I want to do is eat a slice and a half of pizza and sleep for two to ten hours. This summer, I wanted a drink that wouldn’t NyQuil me into obliviousness, that would elicit the same “Oohs” and “Aahs” I enjoyed as a grossly underaged bartender, and that I could, ideally, drink on my stoop without spilling sticky liquor all over my pants. Enter: the LaCroix cocktail.
When a friend sent me a Punch article titled “Build a Cocktail in Your LaCroix,” I was sold. I don’t own the branded swimsuit or anything, but I do love LaCroix very much. I love it almost as much as I hate most cocktail glasses, which are basically plates you balance puddles of overpriced drinks on, so mixing a cocktail in a can was extremely appealing to me.
After careful consideration, I decided to make two of the cocktails listed: The High Ball Stepper, a Berry LaCroix cocktail from Benjamin Amberg of Clyde Common in Portland (because I love gin), and the Shower Spritz, a Pamplemousse LaCroix cocktail from Natasha Davis at New York’s Nitecap (because I love Aperol, and because I had leftover St. Germain from making the royal-wedding cake).
While they’re both pretty easy to make, the High Ball Stepper is the more involved of the two, because you have to make mint syrup. To do this, you blanch a bundle of mint in boiling water for 15 seconds, then blend that with eight ounces of simple syrup (2 parts sugar, one part water) and then put the mixture through a strainer. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to go.
When my friend Amanda and I started making the drinks, we were so deliriously amped to find ourselves making LaCroix cocktails that we got all the steps mixed up. We remembered we didn’t have a blender, so we started chopping the mint super finely, only to realize we had forgotten to blanch it. Oops. We mixed the chopped mint in with the simple syrup and strained it, which was admittedly not ideal, but tasted fine. All this to say, the recipes are fairly idiot-proof.
Once you’ve made/botched the mint syrup, you pour out half a can of LaCroix and set it aside for hydration, or future cocktails, or for Amanda’s cat to stick his head in. Then, you combine three-quarters of an ounce of mint syrup, two shots of London dry gin, and a shot of lime juice into a mixing tin (or a plastic shaker with cute, whimsical drawings on it) and shake with cracked ice (or old ice you broke apart by slamming the bag on the counter). You then fine-strain that mixture into the can using a small funnel (or you pour very slowly and carefully straight from the shaker because you’re impatient and don’t have a “small funnel” because, I don’t know, you’re not some sort of scientist?) and garnish with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, mint, and a straw, ideally of the crazy variety.
The Shower Spritz was much less involved. You pour out 2½ ounces of Pamplemousse LaCroix, and then pour in two ounces of Aperol, a half-ounce of the elderflower liqueur St. Germain, a pinch of Kosher salt, and voila! As for the garnishes, I was not able to track down an edible orchid or edible glitter at any of the stores within a two-block vicinity of my apartment. (I didn’t really want to get glitter in all my clothes and crevices anyway.) So we used the same berry garnishes from the High Ball Stepper, stuck them on a little toothpick umbrella, and called it a day.
We sipped our creations on Amanda’s stoop, and took pictures of ourselves, and certainly looked like jackasses, but the drinks were delightful. The High Ball Stepper was slightly too limey for my taste, but still enjoyable, and because the citrus and mint syrup softens the bite of the gin, deceptively potent. The Shower Spritz was my favorite — sweet, but not overly so, and with the slight bitter herbiness of the Aperol. If it weren’t for “my job” and “my liver” I would love to pound 12 of them a day like Donald Trump pounds Diet Coke.
In any case, I loved these specific cocktails, but the possibilities of what you could make in a LaCroix can are endless. As Aesop once said at a party, maybe, “We are limited in our drink selection only by our imagination.”
My report card
Pant spills: 0!
My Overall Performance: A