I created this drink for a birthday celebration while I was on a Jamaican vacation. Thyme and black peppercorns, local ingredients, steeped in a simple syrup. Grapefruit, which grows abundantly there, is used in a popular soft drink called Ting, and I think it adds the right “ting” in this drink too.
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 bunch fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed
- 4 grapefruits, juiced
- 2 cups vodka
- Club soda
- Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish (optional)
- Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat. Add the thyme and peppercorns. Let steep for one hour. Strain and chill, reserving a few thyme sprigs for garnish.
- Mix grapefruit juice and vodka in a pitcher. (Chill if making ahead.) To serve, fill each 8-ounce glass with 1 tablespoon thyme syrup, add ice to fill the glass, and fill 3/4 of the way full with the grapefruit mixture. Top with club soda. Garnish with 1 sprig of fresh thyme and some cracked black pepper if desired.
The Spirit Revolution: It’s amazing what has happened to the traditional spirits of gin, vodka, and whisky. All sorts of small local distilleries have cropped up across North America, using regional ingredients for fermenting: maple, potatoes, pine, etc. Just as terroir defines a wine, so are these new spirits authentic representations of place. When you’re traveling, pick up a spirit you’ve never tried and then create a memorable drink at home.