Smashed up Valentine’s Day

So, let me start by saying that I think I have reached a point in my life where I drink more for the flavor and less for the buzz.  Don’t get me wrong, while I do often appreciate (and need) the effects of alcohol on the body, especially the brain, getting drunk isn’t really so much a part of drinking anymore for me.

My very first cocktails of choice were pina coladas and rum-and-coke.  When I moved to San Francisco, I became a quick fan of long island iced teas and sparkling wine.  Once I became a working woman, and, then, a mother, it was whatever was easy…wine, usually, maybe a margarita here and there.  Shamefully, I wasn’t much into experimenting…until recently.  I have started to discover that there are some amazing, and delicious. liquors and liqueurs that can be mixed to make some pretty fantastic beverages.  Though, I still have a sweet tooth when it comes to my drinks, I am finding that, either because my taste buds have really dulled or I am just expanding my preferences, I like drinks that aren’t super sweet as well.  I guess there’s a time and place for everything.

So…that’s my story.  Now, onto tonight’s beverage – the Tequila Smash.

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Many of my Valentine’s beverages have cherry (something) in them.  I have discovered Luxardo maraschino liqueur, which is, surprisingly, not super sweet. You can read more about it here.  My husband, who has drier tastes (and wit) than I, even approves of the liqueur.  As the name implies, the drink is mostly tequila.  Now, typically, I wouldn’t think of tequila for a February drink…but considering the weather we’ve had recently, I am very happy to drink something that is usually associated with sombreros and warmer climates.

The drink actually starts with muddled cherries and blueberries.  I actually did not have blueberries on hand…but, no doubt, it probably would have added to the flavor and color of this drink.  The recipe actually calls for making your own Luxardo cherries by using canned or fresh pitted cherries soaked in Luxardo for a few days.  Obviously, it is not cherry season, so fresh cherries are not an option.  I did manage to find tart canned cherries and started soaking them 9 days ago.

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I also happened to find Luxardo Cherries at Kappy’s while shopping.  At first, the $18.99 price tag was a little off-putting…but, in the end, I figured “what the hell”, the splurge could be a gift to myself.  Here is the comparison between homemade and brand name.  The homemade cherries might continue to improve with age.  The liquid is nearly clear and has started to take on a red color.  The Luxardo cherries are in a syrup.  The homemade cherries didn’t have as much of a cherry flavor – I blame the canning process and being being stored in water.  The Luxardo cherries were decadent, but not super sweet like the familiar bright red maraschino cherry.  They definitely had a cherry flavor.  And, any sweetness that they had was certainly tempered by adding to the alcohol.  I would love to make this again when I can get fresh cherries…should make for an interesting comparison.

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I decided to muddle four of each (homemade and Luxardo) for this drink.  I think the Luxardo cherries helped to provide a nicer, darker, color and a more complex flavor.

After the muddling, I added in the tequila, Luxardo liqueur, lime juice and ice…shake, shake, shake…and pour everything in the glass.  Be advised, this recipe (8 Luxardo cherries, 4 oz. tequila, 1 oz. Luxardo liqueur, 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice) makes TWO drinks.  I also opted to garnish with two of the Luxardo cherries.  I shared a sip with the hubby (it is Valentine’s Day, afterall)..but enjoyed the rest myself and sipped slooooowly.

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