For me, Concord grapes are one of the highlights of early fall. Their fleeting season combined with their fantastic sweet-tart flavor and curious thick-skinned texture makes them exciting to eat straight off of the bunch, but even more thrilling when shaken up into this Concord Spritzer from Laurent Tourondel's Fresh from the Market. This lovely fuchsia cocktail is refreshing enough for these last few warm days, but its flavor is grapey enough to taste like fall.
Before I set out to mix up my Concord Spritzers I first had to come up with a method for juicing grapes, a task that I had never attempted and feared would stain my kitchen a sinister shade of purple. A quick search lead me to a relatively mess-free method of grape juicing: Put the grapes in a pot with a small amount of water, simmer for a minute or two, and then mash the grapes with a potato masher. After the grapes release their juices they are set in a colander lined with cheese cloth and pressed—grape juice accomplished. The rest of the cocktail preparation is a simply a matter of mixing the juice with simple syrup, lemon juice, and vodka (preferably grape-distilled for its subtle notes of grape flavor).
Stained and topped with a splash of club soda, this cocktail is dangerously drinkable, almost like a grown-up version of grape soda, but far cleaner and more refined. Garnishing each cocktail with a mini bunch of Concord grapes not only beautifies the cocktails but allows your tipplers to experience the pure flavor of the grapes and provides a little nibble.
- 2 ounces Ciroc vodka or other grape-distilled vodka
- 2 ounces fresh Concord grape juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Club soda
- Small grape cluster, for garnish
Combine the vodka, grape juice, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and pour into a highball glass. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with the grape cluster on the rim of the glass.