Potent Potables | Summer Guide | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Culture » Summer Guide

Potent Potables

Classic summer sipping poses no Jeopardy.


My new job had me making my way through the bustling metropolises of Duchesne and Roosevelt last week, en route to Vernal. Occasionally, I would cast a sideways glance at the Duchesne and Strawberry rivers. Both were running like chocolate milk, but I knew summer was just around the proverbial bend. Navigating the orange Department of Transportation cones in Roosevelt reminded me of my freshman college year: listening to vintage Stan Ridgway (Wallof Voodoo) songs and watching Jeopardy hosted by Alex Trebek. My favorite category on Jeopardy was definitely “Potent Potables.” I started role-playing in my mind and thinking of potent potables designed for the lazy days of summer that lie ahead.

Muy Bueno!
“I’ll take Potent Potables for $200, Alex!” I cry out to the blacktop and at no one in particular.

“Created by Margaret Sames in December of 1948, this popular cocktail includes a spirit most popularly preceded by salt and followed by lime,” avers Trebek.

“What is a Margarita?” I respond. I am rewarded with a patronizing, “You are correct, for $200.”

Invented in her Acapulco bar in the early winter months of the late 1940s, the Margarita was comprised of a 2:1:1 ratio of tequila, triple sec and fresh lime juice. While there are more contradictory tales of this cocktail’s origin than there are reposados in our market, I am of the belief that this cocktail bears the maker’s name. As a bartender, two critical components stand out in all the best Margarita recipes I’ve utilized over time: Fresh lime juice and premium orange liqueur. If you aren’t sure which liqueur should be used, be sure to consult with your local Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control wine-store manager. Sweet & sour mix should be avoided. The combination of fresh-squeezed lime juice and its inherent acidic backbone with orange liqueur is a match made in libation heaven. Throw in the hint of oak spice offered by a reposado tequila, and life is “muy bueno!” Best served shaken and strained into salt-rimmed martini stem—this method keeps the Waring blender noise pollution down as well.

Leaping Lizards
Hmmm … I see a Pink Dinosaur ahead, must be getting into Dino- Land. “I’ll take Potent Potables for $400!”

“What is a Mojito?” replies my imaginary opponent in the form of a question. Mr. Trebek gives him an affirmative nod.

Again, history has suggested several possible origins for this drink. One of the most accepted versions includes its original name, “El Draque.” In honor of Sir Francis Drake, the Mojito became known as such in part due to a Cuban seasoning made of lime called “mojo.” Traditionally, silver or clear rum creates the dynamic foundation for this drink. Start by adding 1 tablespoon white cane sugar to the base of a highball glass and scatter five to seven mint leaves over the sugar base. Muddle the two without shredding the mint. It’s important to note that muddling is simply a process intended to release the inherent mint oils, not an attempt to exact violent revenge upon reprobate mint leaves. Fill glass with ice and top with a 1:4 ratio of rum to soda water. Throw in a few mint leaves pour faire joli and sip until the sun sets.

Chunky Monkey
Electrified by a win, my opponent picks Potent Potables for $1,000.

“From the Portuguese and Spanish word meaning ‘bloody,’ this summer quaffer comes complete with its own fruit salad,” reads Trebek.

I beat the buzzer and shout out, “Sangria!” You guessed it: good for $1,000.

While the definition of Sangria is “bloodied,” one mustn’t only think red wine when it comes to this chilled, refreshing mélange of fruity flavors so widely popular in Spanish and Portuguese cantinas. Hundreds of recipes exist for this easily made, food-friendly summer beverage. Here’s a simple one:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 lemon, halved
1750 ml bottle wine, white or red. Traditionally red, hence
name of origin.
1/4 cup Sweet Vermouth
2 cups cubed fruit such as apple, peach, orange

Simmer the first three ingredients to create a simple citrus syrup. Once cooled, squeeze the juice from the lemon halves into the syrup and discard the lemons. Combine the simple syrup, wine, vermouth and fruit in a pitcher. Let rest in refrigerator at least a few hours to allow flavors to combine and fruit to absorb the Sangria. If you opt to make Sangria based on this recipe, please don’t just stop there. Let your own palate be your guide and the wine be the canvas for showing a brilliant spectrum of flavors. Sparkling Cava, Muscat and mango chunks? Why not! A crisp Rhone Rosé with raspberry liqueur and kiwi slices? Unorthodox? Perhaps, but enjoy. It’s summer and the living is easy.