I am always learning. Last week was brilliant; I was able to benefit from two masterclasses that elevated the conversation on food. Netflix's High On The Hog adapted from the 2011 New York Times best-selling book by culinary historian Dr Jessica B Harris. The other masterclass was the Jamaica Observer's webinar series, entitled The Culinary Industry: What's The Future?, which also featured Dr Jessica Harris along with other voices within Jamaican and Caribbean gastronomy circles. It didn't disappoint and was engaging, enlightening, and inspiring while showcasing the power of black storytelling!
Some of my takeaways from the webinar: consumers are even more conscious and conscientious about the source of their food, the circular economy (think: farm to table, bean to bar), is very important and ingredients that are fresh, local, and seasonal are preferable. To experience a few mocktail and cocktail discoveries I've had the pleasure of sipping you only have to go to Stush In The Bush @stushinthebush and try their Hibiscus Iced Tea that includes actual hibiscus flowers. I also remember having a beautiful cocktail made with nutmeg and guava-infused gin, ginger syrup, and thyme. It was gorgeous! Kushites Vegetable Cuisine @kushitesvegetablecuisine makes a mean Lemongrass (Fevergrass) Lemonade; and Marianna's Kitchen @missmariannaf does an amazing Rose & Tamarind cooler that is pure magic! The future is about continuous elevation and innovation together! Because Jamaica is so much more than an umbrella drink nation.
With summer in full swing (well, certainly the heat is in full swing!) I checked in with my local fruit and vegetable source, affectionately known as Shawn, to see what he had available and in season. Mangoes (of course), pineapple and passion fruit are in, but the June plums are going out …although you may still be able to find some. A quick check in with Nyam and Trod creator Jacqui “@Juicychef” Sinclair confirms that “mango is king right now”, and guava, naseberries and starfruit are also in season. Jacqui agreed about the June plum but also indicated that lychee is also going out of season. I asked her what she has been whipping up as one of my go-to sources for fresh locally craft cocktails. Here are three fantastic cocktails courtesy of Juicy Chef that you can try at home this summer!
Juicy Chef's Pine & “Ginga” Punch
Pineapple and ginger drinks are a traditional combination in Jamaica. My boozy version is fun for a crowd. A fun group drink! When sugar loaf pineapples are in season I gorge on the fruit and make the classic pine and ginger drink with the skins. Nothing goes to waste! My cocktail is perfect to pair alongside a jerk feast.
Makes: 12 servings
750ml pineapple juice
750ml pinot grigio
250ml dark Jamaican dark rum
100ml orange liqueur
500ml ginger beer
Sugarloaf pineapple chunks, divided
Jamaican black mint leaves, divided
Ice for serving
In a large pitcher add juice, wine, rum, orange liqueur and add pineapple chunks and mint. Stir and allow to infuse for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, top with ginger beer and pour over prepared glasses which are filled with ice, and garnish with more fresh pineapple and mint.
Juicy Chef's Guava Jam Cocktail
Jam cocktails had a moment a few years ago, but they remained in my repertoire of drinks to serve friends. Fortunately, they are making a comeback. Jams make a wonderful substitute for simple syrups. This particular rendition of mine represents my Caribbean culture as, normally, the jams featured are berry or marmalade. In this case, the popular tropical fruit guava is used. Jamaicans love guava! If you use guava jelly, you will have to adjust the measurement slightly. I had served this with caramel popcorn in lieu of dessert one day after a spicy meal with friends and it was the perfect sweet ending. The infusion of in-season starfruit serves up that je ne sais quoi! Enjoy xo
Makes: 2 servings
120 ml/4 oz vodka
30 ml/1 oz lime juice
4 tsp Jamaican guava jam
Sliced starfruit for garnish
Lime slices for garnish
To a shaker, add vodka, lime juice, guava jam and ice and shake briskly until the jam breaks down and melts completely. If a few bits remain, that's fine, it gives texture and an added taste sensation.
Strain equally between 2 highball glasses filled with ice and then top with club soda.
Garnish with sliced starfruit and lime slices. Et voilà! Sip happily away.
Juicy Chef's Lychee & Strawberry Gin Fizz
Gin is my favourite clear spirit, and I always make multiple renditions. Summer for me screams strawberries, and Jamaica has a short but sweet season of lychees that I have to capitalise on each season. I created this cocktail for my friends Kerry-Ann Clarke of Kerry manwomanhome @kerrymwh and Aiesha Panton of Pussbackfoot @pussbackfoot for their Collection Moda Summer Pop-Up @thecollectionmoda. This will definitely be one of my signature drinks of the season.
Make: 1 serving
15 ml/ 1/2 oz homemade rosemary cardamom syrup
45 ml/ 1 ½ oz gin
120 ml Indian tonic water
Rosemary sprig for garnish
2 lychees, for garnish
2 strawberries, for garnish
Add rosemary cardamom syrup, and gin to a rocks glass and stir.
Add ice and pour in the tonic water.
Garnish with rosemary, lychees and sliced strawberries.
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