July 10, 2013 in Food

Cocktails on a stick

Frozen ice pops infused with booze deliver a delicious kick
Jill Wendholt Silva McClatchy-Tribune
 

A pomegranate, vanilla and vodka poptail mixes some complex flavors.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

In the wake of the craft cocktail movement, could poptails be far behind?

“Poptails” (Octopus, $12.99) is the clever name for tipsy adult ice pops infused with a jigger of booze. The cookbook that recently crossed my desk is the brainchild of London-based food stylist Laura Fyfe.

I was initially intrigued by the idea of freezing alcohol, something that can be difficult to do. “You have to go easy,” Fyfe told me in a telephone interview regarding the amount used to spike each recipe, “but they still have quite a kick.”

Indeed, it’s a delicate ratio. Still, Fyfe’s ice pops are saucy even though they have only 4 tablespoons of alcohol per recipe. “Freezing dulls the flavors of the ingredient so the alcohol tastes stronger than if you mixed it in a glass,” she said.

I made three flavors: the super-green cucumber Gin Zing, a tasty Pomegranate, Vanilla and Vodka and an English Summer Cup with slices of apple, strawberry and mint. The recipes are simple, delicious and complex, just the sort of layering of flavors we demand from our favorite cocktails.

But I must admit that during our photo shoot, more than half of the ice pops refused to unmold when pulled by the handle. When life gives you lemons, make slush instead. When I asked Fyfe about my dilemma, she said she always uses traditional wooden sticks.

On closer inspection I realized every frosty photo in Fyfe’s book was styled with traditional wooden sticks. A quick Google search revealed all kinds of poptails out there – check out endlesssimmer.com and Pinterest – and all of them on wooden sticks. (And I thought that was strictly an aesthetic choice, since none of the recipes specify wooden sticks over the plastic sticks that typically come with the molds sold at nearly every department store this time of year.)

“Wooden sticks are much better,” Fyfe told me, “because they hold and offer a bit more friction.”

She also advises dipping the molds in hot water to help get just enough melt to loosen the ice pop.

Like Fyfe, plenty of folks are getting on the poptail bandwagon as a novel way to beat the summer heat. Food & Wine Magazine’s July issue features Mojito-Watermelon Pops.

And remember: If your poptail fails, there’s no reason not to slurp it up as a snow cone or slush instead.

Gin Zing

2 1/2 cups chopped cucumber

1 cup elderflower cordial

1/2 cup gin

Place the cucumber and elderflower cordial in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth.

Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and stir half of the pulp in the sieve back into the cucumber and elderflower juice. Mix in the gin until well combined, then pour into six frozen ice pop molds.

Place the molds in the freezer. Let set for 3 hours, give it a good stir, insert the sticks and allow to freeze solid (about 4 more hours) or leave overnight.

Yield: 6 pops

Approximate nutrition per serving: 160 calories, trace fat, trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, no cholesterol, trace dietary fiber, 2 milligrams sodium.

Pomegranate, Vanilla and Vodka

1/2 vanilla bean

1/4 cup super-fine sugar

1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice

4 tablespoons vodka

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and place pod and seeds in a saucepan with the sugar and 1/2 cup water. Slowly bring to a boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Let simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Allow to infuse for 30 minutes.

Remove the vanilla pod from the syrup and mix in the pomegranate juice and vodka. Pour into four frozen ice pop molds.

Place the molds in the freezer. Let set for 2 hours, insert the sticks and allow to freeze until completely solid (about 4 more hours).

Yield: 4 pops

Approximate nutrition per serving: 135 calories, trace total fat, trace protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, no cholesterol, no dietary fiber, 11 milligrams sodium.

English Summer Cup

1/4 cup superfine sugar

4 tablespoons Pimm’s gin-based liquor

1 cup ginger beer (or lemonade)

1/4 cup sliced strawberries

1/4 cup sliced apples

18 small mint leaves

Place the sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Let simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Add the Pimm’s and ginger beer or lemonade. Let cool completely.

Divide the strawberries, apple slices and mint leaves among six frozen ice pop molds. Pour over the Pimm’s mixture and insert the sticks.

Place molds in the freezer for 6 hours, until frozen solid.

Yield: 6 pops

Approximate nutrition per serving: 76 calories, trace total fat, trace protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, no cholesterol, trace dietary fiber, 3 milligrams sodium.

The Jaliscito

This is one of Laura Fyfe’s favorite recipes.

1/2 cup super-fine sugar

Grated zest of 1 lime

1/3 cup lime juice (3 to 4 limes)

2 cups chopped watermelon

6 tablespoons tequila

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

2 tablespoons agave nectar

Put the sugar and lime zest in a saucepan with 1 cup water. Place over low heat. Gently bring to a simmer, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Let bubble gently for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and pour in the lime juice.

Place the chopped watermelon in a food processor or blender, add the lime syrup, tequila, Grand Marnier and agave nectar and blitz until well combined.

Pour into a freezer-safe container, cover, and place in the freezer for up to 6 hours, giving it a good stir every 2 hours. Remove from the freezer, blitz in a food processor or blender, and pour into glasses. Allow to thaw a little (approximately 10 minutes), then serve.

Yield: 6 slushes

Approximate nutrition per serving: 136 calories, trace total fat, trace protein, 24 grams carbohydrates, no cholesterol, trace dietary fiber, 2 milligrams sodium.

Bee’s Knees

2 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons whiskey

2 cups ginger beer

Put the honey and whiskey into a bowl and, using a small whisk, mix together until well combined. Gradually whisk in the ginger beer, making sure that everything is thoroughly blended.

Pour into six ice pop molds and place in the freezer. After 2 hours, give each one a good stir. Freeze for another 2 hours, stir and insert the sticks. Return to the freezer and freeze for another 2 hours, until completely solid.

Yield: 6 pops

Approximate nutrition per serving: 76 calories, no fat, no protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, no cholesterol, trace dietary fiber, 11 milligrams sodium.

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