If you don't know, CUESA (the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is the organization that runs the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market at the SF Ferry Building. Sticking with CUESA's mission, their competitions usually highlight seasonal ingredients from the local farms that sell at the market. In fact, the top-shelf margarita pie we entered in SF Food Wars' Pie or Die II competition, had citrus sourced from the CUESA market.
So when we heard about the event from Michelle, we were excited to snag some tickets and head up to the city. We were not disappointed. The cocktails were beautiful, floral, and made from a rainbow of sources ranging from the bright red hibiscus flowers, to deep almost-purple beets.
Before arriving at the event I'd developed a plan to take notes on the different ingredients and methods that each of the bartenders used in their signature cocktail. Of course once there, that went out the window. I may or may not have forgotten a notebook. And a pen. Details, ya know? Even so, I did manage to stow away a few key trends from the event.
Carrot juice: Borderline sweet, the bright orange juice made it's way into several cocktails that night. We saw (and tasted) whiskey and carrot infused punches, tequila and carrot citrus cocktails, and more.
Fizz: There was no shortage of bubbles that night. We saw the traditional drinks using champagne or club soda and inventive drinks using acid phosphate (traditionally used to make the sodas in old-timey ice cream soda shops).
Heat: When I say heat, I don't mean that the cocktails were warm. Actually I'm referring to warming ingredients ranging from spices (cardamom, cayenne, nutmeg) to produce (jalapeño peppers, ginger). Some of these cocktails really slapped you upside the face with the heat, while others were more subtle. The variety was fantastic.
Flowers: Lavender, hibiscus, and even pollen gave a floral note to many of the cocktails we tasted. Some infused the flowers into the cocktail themselves and others used them as a beautiful garnish. I felt the floral element was most representative of the May Spring Cocktails theme.
In between sips of the 12 different cocktails (sheesh, was it that many!?) we munched on bites of gluten-free beet green cornbread slathered with Happy Girl Kitchen preserves. Thankfully, Michelle had the forethought to bring the bread from Bread SRSLY knowing our food options would be limited.
We also had fun comparing tasting notes (as if we were drinking fine wine) with the thirsty crowd around us. "I can really taste the pomello in this one." "The cayenne pepper really zings the palette on this one." "The beats really give this one a very earthy taste." Back at home I thought about what I would have made if I had competed. Sticking with the trends, I set to work in my own kitchen making fresh carrot juice, and fresh orange juice. The drink I came up with had the duo of bright orange juices, a splash of ginger liquor, and champagne.
I found this champagne cocktail which I call a carrot orange ginger mimosa to be bright and yet not as acidic as a mimosa can be. The carrot juice mellows the flavor of the orange juice but the ginger kinda sneaks in and plays the piano across your tongue. Super bright and elegant with an added orange blossom or a sprig of lavender. Perfect for a Memorial Weekend brunch or perhaps an SF Giants party. :)
carrot orange ginger mimosas
Author: charissa luke
With the added vitamins in the carrot and orange juice this mimosa might just be the perfect brunch drink! If you can't find ginger liquor you can use a splash of ginger ale or try squeezing some freshly grated ginger into the mixture.
Pour orange juice, carrot juice, and ginger liquor in a glass. Stir and then distribute among four champagne glasses. Pour enough champagne to fill the rest of the glass. Garnish with a flower if desired.