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Winter Squash Cocktail

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A Winter Squash cocktail is somewhat unexpected. It’s a collaboration between me and Phoebe Wilson, co-owner of The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin in Crested Butte, Colorado. It appears in my book Savory Cocktails. I love culinary takes on cocktails and developed this one to take advantage of the unusual pumpkin-infused vodka. Winter spices and warm roasted butternut squash are infused into vodka; creating a drink with deep earthy sugar and spice flavors.

Winter Squash Cocktail

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If you can’t find a small butternut squash buy a 2 pound squash and halve it lengthwise. Bake as instructed cut side down, then continue with recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 1 small butter nut squash (about 1‑pound, see notes)
  • 750 millilitre vodka
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 fresh sage leaf (as garnish)
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg

Directions

Make infusion: Place the oven rack in the center position. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a whole, 1 pound butternut squash onto a baking sheet and bake until blistered and soft enough that the blade of a sharp knife can easily piece through the skin, about 1 ½ hours. Once cooked remove from oven and set aside until it’s cool enough to handle, but still quite warm.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Peel the squash, the skin should pull off easily, then cut the flesh into 2‑inch chunks. Place the chunks into a large non-reactive container or Mason jar. Add the vodka while the squash is still warm. This will assist in the infusion process. Cover and set aside in a dark area for 5 days, swirling the mixture occasionally.

Taste the infusion at this time, it should have a pronounced sweet squash 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 butternut 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.