For many in the United States, a long weekend extends before us–the unofficial beginning of summer which signals warm weather barbecues and refreshing cocktails.
A few weeks ago, I spent a similar long weekend in Alexandria, VA, a charming off-shoot of our nation’s capital. While there, Mr. Rache and I painted the town. . .vermilion. . .at a restaurant of the same name.
Vermilion promotes food values much like mine: simple and locally sourced, even designating a page to local purveyors on their website. Farms in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania make the list.
On the menu are seasonal items such as Spring Pea Angolotti and Pennsylvania Lamb with spring carrots.
Vermilion doesn’t only apply the seasonal approach to the food menu. Right now, May flowers are in the spotlight on the cocktail menu. I’m sure “Lovely Lavender” is as sweet as its name, but when I sidled up to the bar, I ordered a frothy gin concoction with blueberry flavors.
The next day at an impromptu happy hour, I chose a house favorite – the King Street Lemonade. This drink reminded me of a lemon mojito without the rum (and plenty of vodka). On an unusually hot and humid Spring day in Virginia, “refreshing” isn’t an adequate descriptor.
I loved it so much I recreated it at home. Whether you’re having a celebratory barbecue with friends or a lazy weekend at home, your Memorial Day should include one (or three) of these.
1/2 cup mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 cups seltzer water
2 cups vodka
2 cups fresh lemon juice
Make the sugar syrup: Heat the 1/2 cup of sugar and water over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before using.
In a pitcher, muddle ½ cup mint leaves with the sugar syrup. Stir in the seltzer water, vodka, and lemon juice. (If you like a sweeter drink, add a 1/4 cup of superfine sugar at this point.) Chill.
Pour into ice-filled tall glasses–rimmed with raw sugar, if you wish. (Makes about 10 servings.)
1120 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314