Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

Hangar 1 Vodka, grilled meyer lemon juice, and fresh rosemary add a wintry kick to these celebratory cocktails.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

I’ve never been as glad to live in California as I am today, with its diverse culture, temperate weather, abundant produce all year round, and loads of breweries, vineyards, and distilleries. It’s a pretty special place.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

Jay’s a proud Californian, too – his family has been in the Santa Cruz area for generations. On Christmas day, we can usually be found with his folks in Corralitos, sipping drinks on the deck in the sun, taking strolls on the beach, eating local artichokes, Dungeness crab, and spiced persimmon pudding topped with billows of whipped cream. It’s a low-key holiday tradition we look forward to every year.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

The other day, I hosted a little pre-holiday gathering here in San Francisco. In our apartment on Potrero Hill, the only outdoor space we have is a teeny fire escape, so we packed up a mess of local cheese, fruit, and crackers, and a big jar of hot-pink cocktails, and headed to the community garden up the street from us.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

The Potrero Community Garden is my happy place. Perched on a hill, with views sweeping the entire city, the garden is home to plot after plot of lovingly-farmed earth teaming with herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and even a few chickens. The wind was fierce and chilly, but we warmed ourselves in the sun, gazed out at the Golden Gate, feeling thankful for having the good fortune to live in this Golden State.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

These cocktails were inspired by a drink I sipped with my dear friend Amelia, who moved to Minnesota earlier this year, at Frances in the Castro. It was made from wine-based aperitifs and a good dose of juice from meyer lemons that had been charred on the grill. The scent of lemons grilling permeated the restaurant and was as intoxicating as the drink itself. I decided to try this technique at home on my stovetop grill pan.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

The lemons’ sweet juices caramelize from the heat of the grill, adding bitter-sweet depth. It pairs beautifully with fresh pomegranate juice, which also has flowery/sweet/tart/bitter tastes. Rosemary simple syrup adds a bit of piney depth, and the drink is punctuated by Hangar 1 Vodka’s clean flavor and a bit of fizzy water.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

I discovered Hangar 1 Vodka 1 a few years ago through a dear friend who is a connoisseur of fine spirits and only ever drinks vodka martinis with a twist. It’s been my go-to ever since. Their Straight vodka is distilled from wine grapes and grain, and it’s so flavorful that you can enjoy it neat as you would a good whiskey (in fact, I’m doing that as I type!). In these cocktails, it adds clean, warm, floral notes to the mix.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re blessed with a bit of sunshine, good friends, and tasty food and drink this holiday season.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

Many thanks to Hangar 1 Vodka for sponsoring this post, and thanks to Ana, Shelley, and Gizella for braving the cold to sip drinks with me! You’re the best friends I could hope for.

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers
 
Look for fresh-pressed pomegranate juice at farmers markets throughout the fall and early winter months, or make your own by pulsing pomegranate arils in a blender, then straining through a fine-mesh sieve. A stovetop grill pan works great for the lemons if you don’t have an outdoor grill. See below for a larger recipe to serve a crowd.
Ingredients
Rosemary simple syrup:
  • ½ cup (100 g) organic granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (120 ml) water
  • 3 tablespoons lightly packed chopped rosemary leaves
Grilled Meyer Lemon Juice:
  • 1 large Meyer lemon (per 2 drinks)
Per drink:
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) Hangar 1 Straight Vodka
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) pomegranate juice (preferably fresh)
  • 1 ½ - 2 tablespoons (20 g) grilled meyer lemon juice (to taste)
  • 2-3 teaspoons rosemary (10 ml) simple syrup (to taste)
  • ice
  • ~1 cup (245 ml) sparkling water
  • pomegranate arils and rosemary sprigs, for garnish
Instructions
Simple Syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and chopped rosemary. Bring to a boil, swirling to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat and steep 5 minutes. Strain and chill until needed, up to 1 week.
Grilled Meyer Lemon Juice:
  1. Cut the lemon in half crosswise. Place cut side-down on a hot grill (a stovetop grill pan works well, too). Grill until the flesh is charred, 2-3 minutes. Remove and let cool. Juice the lemons and strain out any seeds and pulp.
Cocktails:
  1. In a highball glass, combine the vodka and pomegranate juice with the smaller amounts of the grilled lemon juice and and simple syrup, stirring well. Top with plenty of ice and sparkling water, adding more lemon or simple syrup if you feel the drink needs it. Garnish with pomegranate arils and a sprig of rosemary and serve.
  2. If you’re making this for a crowd, here’s the recipe multiplied to make 8 cocktails. You can make it up to 1 day ahead and store refrigerated airtight until serving time.
  3. ½ cups (355 ml) Hangar 1 Straight Vodka
  4. ½ cups (355 ml) pomegranate juice
  5. ¾ cup (175 ml) grilled meyer lemon juice (more to taste)
  6. tablespoons (90 ml) rosemary simple syrup (more to taste)
  7. ice
  8. about 2 quarts sparkling water
  9. pomegranate arils and rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka SparklersRosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers

 

12 thoughts on “Rosemary, Pomegranate, & Grilled Meyer Lemon Vodka Sparklers”

  1. i’m quite jealous of that christmas tradition, sipping cocktails and eating crab in sunshine. having snow isn’t all that bad though! pretty at least. :) i think since this drink was inspired by one you had with amelia, that you need to come and visit us both. :) gorgeous photos- and in love with the color! xo

  2. That’s a very moving post. But I’m glad my wife and I moved to the Portland OR area from LA. Although, after a big snow storm last night and icy roads today, I could use a little CA warmth.
    The drink sounds wonderful. I’ll definitely stop off at the liquor store and get the ingredients for it.
    Thanks for the recipe, Alanna. It was nice seeing you in this blog posting.
    Dad

  3. I want to come to California and sip cocktails in the garden with you!! Looks like so much fun! And this cocktail looks like a lot of fun too! I usually stick to wine because I’m pretty lazy but these sparklers are so gorgeous and I think they are calling my name :)

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