From Crass to Craft: Berries, Beets, n' Cream

by Madeline Popelka


About a month ago I learned of a monthly “online cocktail party”—Mixology Monday! Basically, each month there is a new host blog that selects a theme for the next Mixology Monday. A bunch of cocktail geeks participate by attempting to create a cocktail that interprets that month’s theme. This month, Scott Diaz of Shake, Strain, & Sip is the host, and the theme is "From Crass to Craft".

For this month’s theme, I decided to use an ingredient in which I consider to be “craft” in the “crass” category of flavored vodka. Normally, flavored vodkas are vodka with flavoring added. I find these vodkas to be undrinkable because the flavor is too intense, they’re over-sweet, and they just taste bad… because the flavor is fake!

In 2008, Skyy Spirits (now Campari America) released the first all-natural infused vodka, SKYY Infusions, using real fruit to infuse premium SKYY Vodka. It’s amazing; the vodka really captures the true flavor of the fruit! They started out with five flavors, and over the past five years, grew to one dozen flavors. The two newest flavors (released this year) are Wild Strawberry and Moscato Grape.

I always associate strawberries with warm weather and the summertime. Since we’ve been having such beautiful weather here in San Francisco, I decided to mix up a drink with SKYY Infusions Wild Strawberry last week. Usually people mix flavored vodka with soda or juice, but I decided to do something completely different.

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Berries, Beets, n' Cream

2 oz. SKYY Infusions Wild Strawberry

1 oz. Beet Syrup*

.5 oz. Carolans Irish Cream

4 dashes of Citrus Bitters

1 splash of heavy cream

1 small pinch of salt

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over one large ice cube. Garnish with fresh rosemary.

*Beet Syrup

¾ cup chopped beets (roasted and peeled)

2 cups water

1 cup brown sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

Combine all ingredients (except lemon juice) in a saucepan, bring to boil, and simmer for 7 minutes, and then add lemon juice. Let it cool, blend, and then push the mixture through a fine strainer.

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Yes, you read that correctly. BEET SYRUP! The beets add a great sweet, earthy flavor to the drink, which complements the sweet strawberry. I know, it sounds really strange, but it’s REALLY delicious (if you’re a beet lover, like me).  I found the syrup to be so good that I also drizzled some on my Greek yogurt.

Another thing I love about warm weather is eating the cold, sweet treats that go along with it. When I was young, one of my favorite treats was the Creamsicle. I just loved the combination of the fruit and cream, and I still do, so I added a little Carolans and a splash of heavy cream to the cocktail.

I also added a few dashes of my homemade Citrus Bitters to add some acidity and brightness to the drink. I also threw in a small pinch of salt—this does not make the drink salty. Adding salt to the drink just intensifies the flavor of the roasted beets and cream, and also balances out the sweetness from the syrup and vodka.

I garnished the drink with fresh rosemary because the beets that I used in the syrup were roasted in olive oil and rosemary. As you take a sip of the drink, you smell the rosemary, which brings out that roasted rosemary flavor that is lingering on the back of your palate.

In the past week, I’ve made this drink for myself three times (and now, as I write about it, I want another). I don’t remember the last time I drank this much flavored vodka! This drink tastes like a strawberry-beet Creamsicle! Or, like a scoop of strawberry ice cream—sweet, fruity, smooth, and satisfying.

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Grab yourself a little scoop of summer and give it a try!

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