Test Kitchen - Elderberry Basil Cocktail

Every once in a while, I like to take a step outside of the normal framework of recipe-making. These Test Kitchen posts have really given me a chance to play around with ingredients and try to find out alternative ways of using items that still produce delicious food. Last week's Test Kitchen ingredient was probably a stumper for everyone because honestly, who really thinks about how they can use elderberry balsamic vinegar? We had a small bottle from Enfuso and wanted to find a fun way to use it. After some thinking, I decided that I hadn't made cocktails in a while so we played with shaking it up for a sweet dram of bubbly danger. This cocktail recipe produces a holiday-like drink that is revitalizing in its herb-heavy scent and beautiful to stare at. It looks best served in a lowball glass as pictured and the measurements are only exact for a portion of it.

Step 1: Ingredients (yields one cocktail)
  • 1.5 oz vodka (1 jigger)
  • 3-4 large sweet basil leaves
  • .75 oz elderberry balsamic vinegar (1/2 jigger)
  • ice
  • ginger ale

Step 2: Making the drink
In terms of preparation, cocktails are generally easy to write out instructions for; it's the balancing of ingredients and flavors that take time. Muddle sweet basil leaves with vodka at the bottom of the shaker. Add in vinegar. Pour in ice until about 75% full. Cover and shake heartily until shaker frosts up. Strain into a lowball glass. Fill remainder to top with ginger ale and enjoy!

This week's Test Kitchen ingredient: polenta
Yes, I realize that I can make my own polenta simply with the raw ingredients but we found this on hand and decided it would be time to use it. For those of you familiar with polenta, suggest on Facebook when this picture goes up on what we should do with it. For those of you unfamiliar with polenta, read the description below and then go contribute on Facebook! Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

"Polenta is cornmeal boiled into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled. The term is of Italian origin, derived from the Latin for hulled and crushed grain (especially barley-meal). Maize was not cultivated in Europe until the early 16th century. It comes from the same base as "pollen"." [Wikipedia]

Photography by Duc Duong.