Cucumber is often praised for its cooling properties, but what about celery? Throw some chopped stalks in a juicer (or, if you’re patient, puree about a dozen in a blender and strain) and you’ve got one of the most refreshing cocktail bases I can imagine. Los Angeles bartender Gabriella Mlynarczyk knows how to use it well, mellowing out the vegetal character of the stalks with citrusy Lillet blanc and lemon juice. The drink’s savory side is supported with mezcal, celery bitters, and a pinch of smoked salt. You’ll want to pour it into a big thermos and bring it to the beach. Starting with chilled mezcal and Lillet means less time waiting for the fridge to do its job.
Makes about 10 servings in a 2-quart pitcher
1 1/3 cups chilled mezcal
1 1/3 cups chilled Lillet blanc
2/3 cup chilled 1:1 simple syrup(recipe follows)
2 1/4 teaspoons celery bitters
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 1/3 cups fresh celery juice (from about 12 celery stalks)
1 cup fresh lemon juice
Smoked sea salt
Thinly sliced lemon wheels (optional)
Up to 1 day before serving, make the batch. Pour chilled mezcal, chilled Lillet blanc, chilled simple syrup, celery bitters, and water into a 2-quart pitcher and stir to mix. Seal well, covering with plastic wrap if needed, and refrigerate.
Up to 2 hours before serving, prepare celery and lemon juices and stir into pitcher mix. Reseal and return to refrigerator if not serving immediately.
To serve, stir mixture well. Place a large ice cube in each rocks glass, then pour in cocktail and garnish with a small pinch of smoked salt and a lemon wheel, if desired.
USE IT UP
On Chicago bartender Chris Muscardin’s advice, skip the vermouth in your next martini and try Lillet blanc instead. Half and half is a lovely ratio to start with; up the gin if you like things drier. Lemon twist and orange bitters, if you please.
1:1 SIMPLE SYRUP
Makes about 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup very hot water
Combine sugar and hot water in a resealable container, such as a mason jar, and stir to dissolve slightly. As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, seal container and shake until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Reprinted with permission from Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion by Maggie Hoffman, copyright© 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, animprint of Penguin Random House.