Two of my favorite things happen in April: spring flowers and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I adore the New York Rangers ice hockey team. More specifically, they know how much I love the Ranger’s Swedish goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers are fighting their way through Round One of the playoffs, and their erratic playing -- swinging from brilliant to horrible in a 24 hr span -- has called for drinks for both celebrating and sulking.
In honor of Henrik and in the spirit of the season, I created "Sundays with Henrik." The drink is my interpretation of a Swedish Bloody Mary, far lighter and more freshening than its American counterpart. Forget thick, goopy tomato juice; this is made with clarified tomato water, fresh basil, cracked pepper and … aquavit!
Aquavit is the drink of Scandinavia, and it’s a vodka-like spirit flavored with herbs and spices. “Aquavit” translates into “water of life,” and with hints of earthy wonderfulness like caraway, fennel, and lemon peel, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
It's too early to say how the Rangers will fare, but as I keep dreaming of a Stanley Cup win, I'll also be dreaming of a Sunday breakfast somewhere in the breath-taking Swedish countryside. Whether it's the Rangers or a Sunday with Henrik, hope springs eternal. LGR!
Tomato water (makes 3-4 drinks)
2 pounds tomatoes, (4 or 5 beefsteak or 2 pounds of smaller tomatoes)
1/2 serrano chile
1/8 red onion
pinch sea salt
A few leaves fresh basil
Cocktail (serves 1)
1 1/2 ounces aquavit
pinch cracked pepper
Cut up the tomatoes, chile, onion, basil; put in a blender with the salt and puree until smooth.
Pour the puree into a cheesecloth-lined strainer or colander set over a bowl and leave in the fridge to strain overnight.
In the morning, squeeze the pulp to release more water and then discard the pulp and cloth.
For each cocktail, shake 1 1/2 ounces of aquavit with 4 ounces of the tomato water over ice. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and add some cracked pepper. Garnish with basil and a splash of hot sauce if needed -- but the chile should be plenty for the heat!