There are a few smells from my childhood that immediately transport me to the days when I would run around the backyard in my bare feet. I vividly remember the way it felt to run in the velvety soft green grass, stopping every so often to watch a grasshopper bounce effortlessly between slender blades on its way to the neighboring lawn. By the end of the day, my feet would be black with dirt. I remember getting into the shower and watching my muddy footprints disintegrate and drift down the drain with the warm water. With my face pink and freckled from the sun and my hair still wet, I would bound down the stairs the way children do and into the kitchen where the smells of whatever my mom had been making that day still hung in the humid summer air.
These memories came flooding back to me this week while I roasted strawberries and watched Riley sit next to our black lab in the back yard. He sat there caressing the grass with his wonderful, chubby toddler fingers while Decorah chewed on her bone. It was one of those strange moments when my childhood collided with his for a brief moment. The roasted strawberries smelled just like my mom's strawberry jam. That concentrated sweet smell is one of my very favorite things.
Today's cocktail Friday is dedicated to childhood memories like lemonade stands with little paper cups and a hand-written sign saying '25 cents', or gazing at the sky for who knows how long because it's the most important item on your 'to-do' list.
This Meyer lemon cocktail with vodka and roasted strawberries is the best way to use the last of the season's Meyer lemons and the first strawberries of the year. It is sweet, slightly tart, and sure to remind you of all the things to savor during these tender spring days.
*Full disclosure: I was given products from Heritage Distilling to use for Set the Table cocktail recipes. My opinions are 100% my own.
Meyer Lemonade with Roasted Strawberries & Vodka
For the strawberries:
- 1 lb strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
For the Meyer Lemonade:
- 1 cup Meyer lemon juice
- 1 cup honey-thyme syrup (recipe [here|http://rachaelwhite.me/bourbon-thyme-cocktail-recipe/)
- 4 cups water
For the cocktail:
- 2 oz vodka
- 12 roasted strawberry halves
- 2 mint leaves, plus additional for garnish
- Meyer lemonade
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the strawberry halves, cut side down, on the paper.
- Roast for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and drizzle the strawberries with the balsamic. Roast for another 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Combine the lemon juice, syrup and water in a large jar or pitcher. Stir to combine.
- In the bottom of 4 tall glasses, muddle 3 strawberry halves with the vodka and mint leaves.
- Fill each glass with ice and top with Meyer lemonade.
- Garnish with mint leaves and an additional strawberry half if desired.