Coconut Willy

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My husband and I were in Kauai this past February on Valentine’s Day. At the poolside bar, our waitress informed us of a Valentine’s special drink, called a Coconut Willy.

Being ever so daring, I ordered one. Turns out it was the most delicious pool drink we’ve ever had. (Pool drinks typically translate to overpriced, overly sweet cocktails lacking in alcohol.)

It was so good, I asked the bartender about the drink, and he generously showed me how to make it.

I took a mental video of the process, and duplicated it once back at home when the weather warmed. We couldn’t wait to have them again!

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The drink is creamy with coconut and lime flavors. It’s so good it will transport you to a tropical state of mind!

Coconut Willy
For one drink, or double for two

2 ounces gin (I chose Rangpur gin for more lime flavor)

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3 ounces Coco Lopez

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Sweet and sour mix, approximately 2 ounces

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Place ice cubes in your glass.

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Add the gin and Coco Lopez. The Coco Lopez is more tan than white in color.

Stir really well, and then top off with the sweet and sour.

I garnished with a slice of lime.

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Alternatively, place the gin and Coco Lopez in a shaker with ice, shake well, and then pour into the glasses. Top with sweet and sour and stir.

I wanted to see if the coconut “blobs,” which show up in the most right photo above, would dissolve better using the shaker method, but they didn’t.

Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend for a frozen variation.

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I prefer drinks on the rocks because I can drink them faster. Sadly, that’s the truth.

Here’s the recipe for making a pitcher of coconut willies, based on a 750 ml bottle of gin:
1 – 750 ml bottle Rangpur gin
38 ounces Coconut Lopez
25 ounces sweet and sour mix

note: Two things about this drink. One, we were both surprised that it contained gin – we would have guessed vodka. Secondly, we were both sure that there was lime juice in the drink, and there is no lime at all. If you use regular gin, it will still taste limey! A mystery!

Pimm’s Float

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This recipe is brought to you by Food Network chef Sunny Anderson. I wish I could claim it as my own, because it’s fabulous! Every summer I swear I’m going to make it, stack it with other recipe cards, and promptly forget about it. But not this summer.

If you love Pimm’s, and you love ice cream, then you’ll love this treat!
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I didn’t follow Sunny’s recipe to the T – hers included strawberries, and being passed strawberry season, I instead decided on blackberries and raspberries. So here’s what I did.

Sunny’s Pimm and Proper Ice Cream Float
Serves 4 or 2, depending on the serving size

1 pound raspberries and blackberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water

First place the berries in a small pot. Add the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir gently, until the sugar dissolves. Put the lid on, and lower the heat.

After about 5-6 minutes, remove the lid, and cook about 1 minute more. Place the pot in the refrigerator and let the berries and syrup cool completely.
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To complete the ice cream floats, you will need:
Pimm’s
Vanilla ice Cream
Fresca

To prepare the floats, but about 2 heaping tablespoons of the berries and syrup in the bottoms of ice cream glasses. Add an equal volume of Pimm’s to both. Scoop out the ice cream and place it in the glasses.


Right before serving, add the Fresca.

I also served a skewer of blackberries, just for fun.
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Sunny not only made a strawberry syrup in her original recipe, she also used strawberry ice cream. I chose vanilla because I wanted to taste the other flavors.

After tasting these, I’d still opt for vanilla. But I’m sure you could come up with many different ideas for these floats!
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They’re really refreshing, and would make a fun dessert after a summer dinner party as well!


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Summer Cup

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Last month when we were in London, we stayed at a lovely hotel called The Orange. There are only four rooms, and they are above the public house and restaurant of the same name, located on Pimlico road.

It’s a very old building, but being one of the many Thomas Cubitt businesses, it has a different look to it from typical, dark pubs in England and the UK. I personally have never met a pub I didn’t like – especially the ones with stuff like swords and giant keys and old paintings on the walls. But The Orange has its own updated beauty to it.


Right after our daughter moved to London, she taught me to mind my own business in pubs. She knows me well. I love to talk to strangers, and she taught me that in neighborhood pubs, people typically stop by for a pint or two after work. Unless they’re chatting with co-workers, they want to be left alone.

But on this one day at The Orange, I just couldn’t help myself. I had been staring at this lovely pitcher of something that looked similar to Pimm’s, but was too pale to be Pimm’s.

I told my husband, “I don’t care what Emma says, I’m talking to these guys.” She hadn’t arrived yet.

There were four young men at the table next to us, enjoying their mystery drinks, and I politely asked them what it was. The answer? Summer Cup! And then they poured both my husband and myself a drink to sample. I just love British people!!! And they certainly didn’t seem bothered by my inquiry. Take that, Em !
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My husband didn’t like it as much as I did because there was a definite cucumber taste to the drink, but it was really good to me. And refreshing. Since it was 30 degrees Centigrade in London on that day, it’s probably why those young men chose Summer Cup to imbibe.

I’d never heard of Summer Cup, even though I’ve learned that it’s a popular drink in England. Not so much as Pimm’s, which we did enjoy while in St. Ives, enjoying a gorgeous summer day.

After a little research, I learned that Summer Cup, like Pimm’s, is a gin-based drink. And just like you can buy Pimm’s, you can buy Summer Cup. Except that I can’t where I live. Here is a link to Sipsmith Summer Cup. Beautiful bottle, isn’t it?

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So I searched for recipes that would mimic, possibly the actual punch.

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So this is what I found, from House and Garden, the UK version. Was it just like the Summer Cup I had in London? Nah, but it was also really good. I altered the recipe slightly, so the following recipe is what I made.

Jubilee Summer Cup

16 ounces gin
8 ounces Dubonnet
4 ounces sloe gin
4 ounces peach liqueur (instead of apricot, because I couldn’t find any)
Fresca (instead of ginger ale, lemonade* or champagne/prosecco)

I simply added all of the liquor to a pitcher to make it easy, poured the mixture about 1/4 way in each glass, and topped things off with fresca.

Don’t be shy with the fresca – unless you prefer a sweeter cocktail over a punch-like drink, you really need the fizz.

I served the “Summer Cup” with a slice of white peach and lime. What I didn’t do was cut up a bunch of fruit and cucumber and place it in the pitcher. That might have actually made the drink taste more similar. Now I have to make it again. darn.

* In England, at least, lemonade means Sprite or something similar. So watch out if you think you’re ordering something with real lemon lemonade.

Berry Bramble

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I’ve just recently come across the name “bramble” which I thought to be some kind of berry-producing prickly shrub, but it’s also the name of a gin-based cocktail! Since I happen to love gin, and have had the pleasure of being introduced to a new French variety, I thought it was a perfect time to try out a bramble myself! Really, any excuse for a cocktail will do, but specifically for the purpose of research and testing? Absolutely!

Here’s the new gin from France that my friend introduced me to, after sampling it at a tasting in NYC. It’s called G’Vine. I know, that doesn’t sound very French. I’m not even sure how to pronounce it. But it’s fabulous, with floral and citrus tones to its flavor. It’s referred to as “botanical.”
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I’ve had this gin with both tonic and soda water and it’s really delightful, but for my first bramble I decided to pair it with sloe gin. I just recently discovered that sloe gin is made from sloe berries! See, that’s why I read food blogs!

And for the berry part of the bramble, I chose blackberries, because they’re really perfect at the stores right now. Nice and sweet.

Berry Bramble
to make 2 drinks

8-10 fresh blackberries
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces G’Vine gin
1 ounce sloe gin
Fresca or soda water, chilled

Firstly, place the berries in a small bowl. Muddle or fork them into mushiness, along with the sugar.

I then divided the mushed up blackberries in two glasses, and added a couple of whole blackberries as well. It just makes the cocktail that much healthier!

Then add the gin and sloe gin.

Lastly, add the Fresca. If you’re not familiar with Fresca, you should be. It’s a grapefruit based soda and provides much more flavor than just adding sparkling water or soda. Plus it’s super fizzy. It had those blackberries bouncing around so much that sometimes they were out of focus in the photos!
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Mint would be a good addition, but I don’t like getting chopped mint in my teeth, so I just left it sitting there looking pretty!

If you want to learn about G’Vine, check it out here on this crazy website!

verdict: I must say this was a very successful experiment. This brand of gin made it even better, but regular gin would certainly work just as well. The sloe gin added a lot as well, but certainly creme de cassis or Chambord could be substituted. As for the berry aspect, I think this drink would be wonderful with just about any ripe berry!

Pimm’s

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I remember the first time I had Pimm’s, in 1978. I wasn’t much of a drinker way back then, but I remember it being so unique. I had no idea it even had a British origin – I just enjoyed the flavor!

Fast forward 25 years to when my older daughter visited a girlfriend in London, and they shared a pitcher of Pimm’s at a pub! I was so excited, because I’d forgotten all about it, and certainly had no knowledge of its national esteem.

The origin of Pimm’s is very interesting, dating back to the 1800’s when Mr. Pimm invented the gin-based drink. There was originally Pimm’s No. 1, as it is now, but there were also five subsequent Pimm’s; most all of these have been phased out.

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The liqueur contains a secret mixture of herbs, fruit extracts and liqueurs. It experienced a recent revival in popularity from a British tv show whose character would announce, “It’s Pimm’s O’clock!”

I didn’t even know this when I snapped this photo at the Hampton Court food fair outside of London. I was with number 2 daughter and it was freezing out. But by golly there was Pimm’s being sold and I needed to have an official one! It was indeed delicious, although not perfect for a chilly day.

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However, Pimm’s is perfect for spring and summer when it’s acting like spring and summer. Because it’s so refreshing, I often make pitchers of it or put it in a large dispenser. It goes with just about any kind of cuisine.

I took this photo of my Pimm’s at the food fair:

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Here is the “official” recipe for Pimm’s, also referred to as Pimm’s cup.

Pimm’s Cup

Mix 1 part PIMM’S No.1
with 3 parts chilled lemonade.
Add some mint, cucumber, orange
and strawberry

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In a large pitcher, pour in the seltzer, lemonade and Pimm’s. Stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared glasses and enjoy!

This recipe comes from the website Anyone for Pimm’s.

If you noticed, there’s no mention of how much seltzer to use, unless British lemonade is bubbly, but I don’t think it is.

So here’s my recipe:

Pimm’s Cup, for one

In one tall glass, place 1 part Pimm’s, 1 part lemonade and 2 parts fresca. Add a generous amount of ice, and stir well. Add some pieces of cut up orange, apple, and strawberry.

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At the food fair, I could definitely taste mint and cucumber in my Pimm’s. It was completely enjoyable, but I don’t like my Pimm’s to taste too much like water you get at the spa, so I leave out the cucumber. However, I do use a long piece of cucumber that helps with stirring. But you try it however you like.

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When I make Pimm’s in a pitcher, I add a whole array of sliced fruits because it’s so pretty! And you can muddle a bunch of mint leaves if you like, before finishing with the recipe. I love the mintiness, but I don’t like having to deal with chopped mint in my teeth. A personal preference, again.

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note: Pimm’s is a strong drink, but it should not be cloyingly sweet. The secret, from years of personal experimentation, is the Fresca. The drink should be bubbly, not taste like a liqueur on ice. If you prefer using seltzer water, or can’t get your hands on Fresca, be as generous with that. It lightens the drink without adding sweetness, which it doesn’t need. Enjoy!