The Limonana is like a tapa in a martini glass.
The new seasonal cocktail from San Chez Bistro, which pioneered the small-plate dining trend in West Michigan 23 years ago, couples the bright flavors of lemongrass, honeydew melon and orange liqueur with savory Serrano ham to create an invigorating cocktail with a salty-sweet finish. The drink gets its martini-style kick from lemongrass-infused gin that’s made in house, with each batch requiring a two-day infusion process. The dry-cured Spanish ham, sliced thin and paired with a grape, offers a small bite that’s an earthy offset to the ripe honeydew juice and the bitter-and-sweet Cointreau, an orange liqueur.
In Spain, the serving of tapas is intended to encourage conversation because people aren’t so intent on eating their meal. Likewise, the Limonana is sure to be a conversation-starter that can be paired with a variety of tapas or sipped on its own.
1¼ oz. lemongrass-infused gin
1¼ oz. fresh honeydew melon juice
¾ oz. Cointreau
How to make it:
Infusing gin is trickier than other spirits because it’s already a mix of herbs and botanicals that’s been distilled with a neutral grain alcohol. Plus, the range of botanicals varies from gin to gin, so mixologists recommend experimentation. You’ll probably need 2–3 stalks of lemongrass for a 750-ml bottle of gin. Peel the dry outer leaves, chop off the ends, cut them into 1" strips and add them to the infusion jar. Some infusers like to add lemon peel to the mix. Set it aside for 48 hours to two weeks, then pour it through a strainer back into the bottle.
Honeydew is a fickle fruit. When it’s ripe, it’s wonderful and sweet like honey (ergo the name). When it’s not, honeydew is flat and flavorless, which is one reason that cantaloupe outsells honeydew by a 5-to-1 ratio. A ripe melon is heavy, firm and should smell fresh, clean and only faintly sweet. Cut the melon in half and remove the seeds and rinds. Blend or juice the fruit. Chill.
Once the infusion and honeydew juice are done, add all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake vigorously to chill. Strain the mixture into a martini glass. Garnish with a rolled piece of Serrano ham on a skewer that’s anchored with a grape. Sip and conversate.
Check out the video below for more background on this beverage.