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The All-American Colada

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This week we bring you a cocktail quite literally made for July 4th festivities. We’ve partnered with David and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson of 12 Bottle Bar to mix up an All-American Colada.

Oh pioneers! It’s a fitting sentiment when musing about the birth of America, but it’s not the Founding Fathers we’re thinking of when we invoke those words. They did their part, and you know their story. No, we’re talking about ourselves – and the many feats of liquid legerdemain we had to master to bring you today’s drink. To quote a more modern poet, “to boldly go where no one… well, at least the two of us and, we’re betting you as well… has gone before” – the layered, frozen, blended, tropical drink. Or, as we like to call it, the All-American Colada. You may now salute.

First things first. Historically, we’ve never been big blended drink makers. Not that we dislike them. Quite the contrary. We just never had a blender that produced the perfectly consistent mix of ice and beverage – not too thin, not too icy. With a low quality machine, getting that professional result in a drink was extremely difficult. Not anymore. Like any good power tool, a blender with ample and manageable power – like our Vitamix 750 Heritage Professional Blender – does the job perfectly, time and time again. And, in about 20 seconds.

But that’s when the problems started. Our drinks were smoothly blended, but they lacked flavor. When you make a blended alcoholic cocktail, nearly half of your yield will be ice — and water from ice. Take a martini and add an equal measure of water to it. Trust us, you won’t like the results. Our initial attempts were insipid at best, so we sought out advice from some of the masters of tropical drinks, and one point immediately became clear: sugar is your best ally. Sugar is a master courier of other flavors. Here’s a simple experiment that you’re going to have to do anyway to make this drink: slice up some fresh strawberries and taste them. Most fresh strawberries from the store still have a good amount of green tartness to them. Now, toss those same strawberry slices in sugar and allow them to macerate for 30 minutes or so. Oh, yeah – that what your brain thinks strawberries should taste like.

In most drinks, adding sugar is as easy as, well, adding sugar or, more likely, simple syrup (sugar dissolved in water). The problem with adding simple syrup in the volume needed is that, as part of the syrup, you’re increasing the water quotient of the drink – which is exactly the problem we were trying to avoid in the first place. To remedy that and, as stated above, to take advantage of the flavor delivery powers of sugar, we combined it with fruits in each of our blends – strawberries, coconut and pineapple. This way, we enhance the flavor of our ingredients while increasing the amount of sugar. You’ll certainly taste the results.

About the All-American Colada

We could have easily presented a single blend here today, but no, for the Fourth of July, we had to do red, white, and blue layers. The core drink we chose was the Strawberry Colada, which boasts the very fruits we wanted to use for our layers – strawberries for the red, coconut for the white, and pineapple for the blue… because, well, you need blue curacao (orange liqueur) for a blue drink, and pineapple married very well with curacao. We concocted each layer as a standalone drink, building around the core strawberry, coconut or pineapple flavor. The problems started when we tried to layer them.

Conventional cocktail wisdom dictates that the ingredients with the greatest relative density (think “the most sugar”) will sink to the bottom, and when layering ingredients, you need to keep this in mind while building your drink. When it comes to frozen, blended drinks, the rules change a bit. Actually, there’s only one rule: Don’t try to layer slushy drinks on top of each other.

Instead, the trick is to add the first layer to the serving glass and freeze it until solid. Then, add the next layer and freeze again. Repeat until you have built the whole drink. The great thing about frozen blended drinks is how easy they are to whip up in advance, even if you’re not layering. As long as you have the freezer room, make and portion the drinks the day before and keep them on ice until you’re ready to serve. Nothing is easier.

This year, we’re adding the All-American Colada to our Fourth of July celebration. The drink looks stunning in a Bruges Beer Glass, replete with a Red and White Striped Straw, and alongside some of our favorite All-American accessories. The bright red Scalloped Melamine Popcorn Tub is perfect for serving larger items outdoors, while a Galvanized 3-Tier Server saves space and is a great presentation piece that can be used for course after course. We added multiple tones of blue with a Zuma tray, and Fete Aqua Blue Cloth Napkins, while opting for a mix of Blue Bowls and white Hexa Small Bowls for side dishes.

Did our forefathers have layered, frozen, blended, tropical drinks in mind when they dreamed of the boundless possibilities that would flourish in their new nation? Maybe not, but they did determine that the pursuit of happiness was our unalienable right, and to be honest, layered, frozen, blended, tropical drinks make us very happy indeed.

All-American Colada Recipe

Strawberry (Red) Layer

  • 1 cup slices strawberries
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 4 ounces light rum
  • 1 ounce orange liqueur
  • 3 cups crushed ice

Combine the strawberries and the sugar in a bowl and let sit until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Place strawberries in freezer to solidify until ready to use.

When the strawberries are frozen, add the liquid ingredients to your blender container, followed by the fruit, and then the ice. Blend on low for a few seconds, then on high for approximately 20 seconds.

Store in the freezer until ready to use.

Coconut (White) Layer

  • 6 ounces coconut syrup
  • 4 ounces light rum
  • 2 ounces coconut milk
  • 4 dashes aromatic bitters, such as Angostura
  • 3 cups crushed ice

Add the liquid ingredients to your blender container, followed by the ice. Blend on low for a few seconds, then on high for approximately 20 seconds.

Store in the freezer until ready to use.

Coconut Syrup

  • ½ cup coconut water
  • 1 cup white sugar

Add the coconut water to a heat proof glass and microwave for 45 seconds. When finished, stir in the sugar. Stir the mixture occasionally as it cools. It is ready to use when cool and the sugar has dissolved.

Pineapple (Blue) Layer

  • 4 ounces pineapple syrup
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 ounces blue curacao
  • 4 dashes aromatic bitters, such as Angostura
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 2 cups of ice
  • Blue food coloring (optional)

Add the liquid ingredients to your blender container, followed by the fruit, and then the ice. The combination of the pineapple and the curacao naturally produces a greenish-blue. For a truer blue color, add one or more drops of blue food coloring. Blend on low for a few seconds, then on high for approximately 20 seconds.

Store in the freezer until ready to use.

Pineapple Syrup

  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup white sugar

Add the pineapple juice to a heat-proof glass and microwave for 45 seconds. When finished, stir in the sugar. Stir the mixture occasionally as it cools. It is ready to use when cool and the sugar has dissolved.

Want more ideas for your July 4th celebration? See red, white and blue party ideas from Sugar and Charm.

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