A roasted pumpkin cocktail is somewhat unexpected. Most every pumpkin cocktail you’ll find out there starts with canned pumpkin puree and is typically a sweet drink that is trying to capture the essence of pumpkin pie. I’ve seen some very good examples of that style of pumpkin cocktail, but honestly it’s just a bit too much like a grown-up dessert for my palate. This version has everything you love about pumpkin in a slightly more savory presentation.
Prep time does not include infusion.
- 1 small kabacho squash also called Japanese pumpkin (about 3 lbs, halved and fibers and seeds removed)
- 1 (750 ml) bottle vodka
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- fresh sage leaf (as garnish)
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg
Make infusion: Place the oven rack in the center position. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place kambocha halves onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side down. Bake until blistered and soft enough that the blade of a sharp knife can easily piece through the skin, about 1 hour. Once cooked remove from oven and set aside until it’s cool enough to handle, but still quite warm.
Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh out in large chunks. Place the chunks into a large non-reactive container or Mason jar. Add the vodka while the flesh is still warm. This will assist in the infusion process. Cover and set aside in a dark area for 3 to 5 days, swirling the mixture occasionally.
Taste the infusion at this time, it should have a pronounced sweet pumpkin flavor and be amber colored. If so, strain the liquid through a wire-mesh sieve double-lined with damp cheese cloth into an airtight container, discarding solids. This infusion makes more than you need for just one cocktail, it may be covered and refrigerated up to 1 month.
Make cocktail: Combine 4 ounces pumpkin-infused vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice and lime juice in a cocktail shaker ⅔ filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into a chilled 6 ounce cocktail or martini glass. Float a sage leaf on top as garnish. Mix the cinnamon and nutmeg together and sprinkle lightly on top. Makes 1.