A couple months ago, I bought a bulb of fennel from the farmers market. It had the most gorgeous long stem, overflowing with feathery fronds.
This kind of fennel is harder and harder to come by. Not a chance at our local super markets. They like to chop off the beautiful tops to make the bulbs all tidy when stacked.
It always makes me feel like I’m getting ripped off when I have to purchase fennel like that. I do as much with the fronds as I do with the bulb. So whenever I spot it at the farmers market, I grab it.
Well, this time around I had loads of greenery left over after a project. I started to think about how its licorice-like flavors would pair with the Costco-size bottle of vodka sitting on the counter (don’t judge). I’d had fennel infused cocktails before, but it was as a flavor accent, in the syrup or as a garnish, versus the main attraction.
I figured I had nothing to lose so I stuffed some fronds into a pint jar and filled it with about 1 cup of vodka. I made only a small amount, just in case it didn’t turn out well. I don’t know why this would be a concern when one has a party-size bottle of vodka for a family of two, but clearly I have priorities.
After that, I forgot about it.
I really did. I stuck it over by the bar and it sat for about 3 weeks until I thought I should probably strain it. I honestly thought it would be a drain-pour. The greenery does get all limp and unattractive.
But I strained it anyway and gave it a taste. It turned out that I loved the subtle licorice flavor that the fennel gave the vodka. So I stored it in a small jar and it sat another few weeks until I was inspired to make something with it.
That inspiration came last weekend and in the form of a pink grapefruit. I’ve had fennel salads with citrus before so that was my first consideration for a cocktail.
The grapefruit was another find at the farmers market. Actually, I thought it was going to be a red grapefruit with the dark pink flesh that I’ve worked with before, but these ended up being true pink grapefruits with just a hint of pink color.
Although the grapefruit juice was sweet, it needed a little extra something. So after consulting my husband, we decided it was just a splash of liqueur or syrup. I went for some orange liqueur, a triple sec type spirit. Just 1/4 ounce for two cocktails was plenty, but it brought it all together. Then I garnished it with a cocktail frond, of course.
A super simple cocktail, but completely unique considering the home-infused vodka. Infusing spirits has been something I’ve wanted to get more into so maybe this was my gateway experiment!
Fennel Vodka Pink Grapefruit Martini
Makes 2 drinks
What you’ll need:
5 ounces pink grapefruit juice
4 ounces fennel vodka (see recipe below)
1/4 ounce orange liqueur
Fennel fronds for garnish
Fennel fronds to fill a pint jar
8 to 10 ounces vodka
How to make it:
Pour the grapefruit juice and vodka in a cocktail shaker or glass. Add the orange liqueur. Drop in 4 to 5 ice cubes and stir for 30 seconds until well chilled.
Strain into two cocktail glasses and garnish with fennel fronds before serving.
To make the the vodka, stuff the fronds into a pint jar. Pour in the vodka. Seal with a lid and let sit for at least 2 weeks. Invert every now and then to mix, if you don’t forget about it like I did.