If this post seems silly, nonsensical, or dippy, it’s all of those things. It’s also a very good reflection of how I’m feeling these days. A little lighter. Not taking myself so seriously. Back to trying to infuse the everyday with a little smile. Somedays, we have important matters to talk through, chew through, and think through. But today, it’s time for spooky, or not so spooky, Beet Red Boo-levardiers. Nonsensical, necessary, and hauntingly good.
First things first, a Boulevardier (bul-leh-var-dee-ay) is a classic drink, a riff off the Negroni but less bitter. It’s made with Whiskey/Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Campari, and a peel of orange. And then you have the Boo-levardier made with frozen glassy eyeballs, Beet Drinking Shrub (procured from the farmers market but sold on Amazon), Sugar Bush Whiskey, Compari, and extra drops of bitters. It’s best served around Halloween with friends who like to laugh or just need a good laugh.
To make the frozen eyeballs, you’ll need a silicone cylindrical mold, toothpicks, and olives stuffed with peppers. Place a toothpick in the asterisk* of the olive, and place the red pepper side down. Cover, carefully wiggling the toothpicks through the holes of the mold. Fill with water and freeze for at least 8 hours. Once frozen, peel away the mold and break off the remainder of the tooth pick.
And viola! So spooky. And edible. And they add a welcomed salty note to the drink.
I should mention, I don’t care for the flavor of beets, not one bit. It tastes like dirt in my mouth. However, I love this drink. I sampled this shrub variety at our farmers market last weekend, and next thing you know, it was in my bag. If you’re not in Minneapolis, you can purchase Calvit’s Shrubs from Amazon. They are not overly potent in the vinegar department. It’s more like a reduction of delicious flavors to add to a cocktail or soda. A little goes a long way.
Beet Red Boo-levardier
This spooky, Halloween-y cocktail is a riff off the classic Boulevardier, made with Whiskey or Bourbon, Compari, and Sweet Red Vermouth. I've swapped the Vermouth with a Beet Red Shrub mix. You'll find this cocktail to be slightly bitter from the Compari, woody from the Whiskey, and earthy from the beet shrub. It's hauntingly good. Note: this recipe is an easy 2:1 ratio, so scale as needed. See notes below for recipe alterations.
- Green Olives stuffed with red pepper
- Drinking water
At least 8 hours before serving, make the eyeballs using a cylindrical ice mold. Place a toothpick in the asterisk* of the olive, and place the red pepper side down. Repeat. Cover, carefully wiggling the toothpicks through the holes of the mold. Fill with water and freeze until solid for at least 8 hours. Once frozen, peel away the mold and break off the remainder of the tooth pick. Note: good flavored ice starts with the best water. Use the water that you drink.
Make the Boo-levardier. Mix together all of the drink ingredients. Stir to emulsify. Pour and serve. Dilute with a splash of sparkling water, if desired. Add an eyeball or two per glass. Garnish with a slice of beet, if desired.
Let's break these flavors down a bit more so you can understand how to customize your drink. Feel free to swap out different varieties of Whiskey or Bourbon here, one you'd enjoy to sip on on its own. Now, Compari is Compari. It's bitter. My first Compari drink was off putting. So much so, I didn't finish it. Since, I've developed a palate for it and I love it, when well balanced. If you're new to this bitter, scale back to 1/2 oz. and skip the extra bitters altogether. Speaking of bitters, my friend Erik gave me one of his homemade bitter kits, Easy and Company, and I made my own. It's a great present, but needs a little time, like 4 weeks. So start your present-making now. Finally, those olive, eyeball ice rounds add a delicious salty note to this drink. It's nearly unnoticeable, but highly noticeable without. If skipping the spooky cubes, add a tiny spoon of olive juice into the mix. Either way, don't skip adding ice. The larger the cube the better and the slower the melt. Dig back into the math lesson on surface area here. Smaller cubes have a higher surface area ratio and will melt faster, diluting your drink.