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This gin highball uses spices instead of sugar and tonic, to create a refreshing and complex beverage that still uses just a few ingredients. It's perfect as an aperitif or for sipping on a porch or stoop on a hot day.
4 ounces of Japanese gin (prefer 135° East Gin)
1/8 of a Moroccan-style preserved lemon, plus 1/2 tsp brine
Fresh lemon wheel for garnish, and optionally more preserved lemon peel
Muddle the lemon, brine, and sansho with the gin.
Prep two 12-ounce Collins glasses by filling them with ice and giving each a stir to chill them. Gently pour out any accumulated meltwater.
Fine strain the infused gin, dividing between the two glasses. Fill with seltzer and give each a quick and gentle stir.
Garnish with the lemon wheel and serve with a straw.
* the preserved lemons called for are the classic Moroccan style done in brine. If these are a challenge for you to source, season one chopped lemon with a 2 teaspoons of salt and a few sansho buds, then simmer in a small covered pot over very low heat until tender (about 15 minutes). It will lack a bit of the complexity of a fermented product, but will do the trick.
• Gin Sonic - Replace 1/2 of the seltzer in the cocktail with tonic water. This is a popular G&T variation in Japan, being lighter and less sweet.
• Not a drinker? Double the preserved lemon and brine and add 1 teaspoon of juniper berries and a pinch of cayenne. Muddle with 4 ounces of seltzer water to better extract the aromatics, then proceed from step 2.
• Try the quick lemon trick above with an orange and a bit of Aleppo pepper. When making the cocktail add a splash of Galliano and sub up to 2/3 of the seltzer with tonic.
• Preserved lemon brine makes a nice alternative to olive brine for a dirty martini. Use Akashi gin, bermutto from Tsutsumi distillery, brine, plus a lemon twist for garnish.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue.
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