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French 75 – the perfect drink


up close champ flute

The perfect celebratory drink to ring in the new year: the French 75. Made with only 4 ingredients,  lemon, gin, simple syrup and champagne. It is simple to make and elegant to drink. This is the perfect balance of floral gin and citrus. Warning: like it’s name sake, it is hard hitting.

Named after a World War I 75 millimeter gun which was the mainstay of the French artillery, the gun was described as “…light, potent with a vicious rate of fire.” The French 75 is said to be the favorite drink of the Lost Generation.

If you make it with cognac or brandy it becomes the King’s Peg.

French 75

1 drink


1 1/2 oz      dry gin (3T)

12 oz.          simple syrup (1T)

12 oz.          fresh squeezed lemon juice

Champagne or a sparkling white wine


Lemon twist, to garnish


champagne flute or tom collins glass (chilled), small sauce pan, a cocktail shaker or large glass with a lid, jigger (a small measuring cup for drinks) or measuring spoons, measuring cup


Put the gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, and ice in the cocktail shaker or large glass with a lid.  Cover and shake for 20 seconds.  Strain the liquid into your chilled champagne flute and top off with Champagne.  Add the twist of lemon for garnish.

 Simple syrup:

1c             white sugar

1c              water

Put the water and sugar in a saucepan on a medium heat.  When the sugar melts, bring the pot to a boil for 3 minutes.  Cool.

Happy New Year!





Limoncello – the final decant


After a three month wait to see if my new recipe for limoncello is a winner, today is the day.  I’ve saved a sample from the last two years’ batches to compare. I have to say it is an unqualified success.  Three of us compared the different batches of this lemony, sweet aperitif. Made with less sugar and water than the majority of recipes I’ve read, we all picked this year’s limoncello as the best. The balance of the lemon, the sweetness of the simple syrup with smooth, silky vodka of this year’s limoncello really stood out. The sweetness did not overpower the other flavors. I will definitely use Polar Ice Vodka and Burnett’s Vodka again.

This is really good. Even in a small kitchen it is worth the space and is well worth the time.

Limoncello is simple to make. However, like many a good thing, it takes time to come to fruition. The first two steps in making limoncello the SmallSpaceCooking way can be found at:


And the second step is here:

Limoncello the 2nd step in an earlier blog "Limoncello, Salute!" showing you just how easy it is to make your own It Italian aperitif! #limoncello #lemon #apertif #afterdinnerdrink #vodka #PolarIcevokda #Burnettsvodka #Italian


Drinks, Great Gift Ideas

Limoncello step 2

limoncello step 2 20151206-_MG_3287.CR

Limoncello – the second step

In an earlier blog, “Limoncello Salute!”, I covered the first stage of creating that well-loved Italian aperitif.   Over the last five weeks the the lemon zest has been slowly infusing into the vodka.

In this second stage you make a simple syrup with 3 cups of water and 3 cups of white sugar. You add the simple syrup and the second bottle of vodka to your gallon jug of vodka and lemon zest. Then put the jug in an out-of-the-way place to sit for another few weeks!

The final stage is decanting the golden liquor and removing the lemon zest. The longer you can leave the lemon zest in the vodka and simple syrup, the better your Limoncello will taste. If you are in a rush, wait at least one week! I usually wait 3 to 4 weeks to do the final decanting. Perfect for a bit of Christmas cheer. But beware – it packs a punch!



Simple Syrup for Limoncello


3c     water

3c     white sugar


Medium saucepan, measuring cup, wooden spoon


Pour the water and sugar into the saucepan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring gently until the sugar melts completely and the liquid has become clear. Continue to heat until the syrup becomes slightly thick, 5-10 minutes.

Cool before pouring into the lemon/vodka infusion.


Drinks, Fruit, Travel

Limoncello, Salute!



Making Limoncello every fall is a tradition in our house. It’s a unique gift and I love to use it as a special treat throughout the year.

It all began when I went to Italy years ago with two friends and my mother. We spent several days in Rome then drove to Umbria and stayed just outside of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis and the Franciscan order. Assisi is on the western flank of the mountain of Monte Subasio. We spent a rainy but beautiful week driving the curving back roads as far north as Florence and all around Umbria.

The first afternoon we drove up Monte Subasio until the snow made us turn around. On the way down we found a tiny restaurant jutting out over the edge of the mountain. We were generously given a table in the middle of the small dining room and were kindly greeted by the other diners with help ordering and with stories of life on the mountain. I had my first pasta with black truffles there, which I remember to this day. Capping off this lovely, hilarious evening we toasted our good fortune with a small glass of limoncello. The proprietor even gave Lisa the small glasses as a gift.

We found ourselves placed at the middle table in quite a few small restaurants. This pattern of meeting lovely people, pantomiming our way through a delightful meal and finishing the evening with limoncello, was set for the rest of our trip.

Limoncello is made in three steps:  1. The lemon zest is soaked in vodka for 30-40 days. 2. Then more vodka and a simple syrup is added to the soaked lemon zest. 3. Finally, the limoncello is decanted and stored in the freezer until used.


This takes less than 30 minutes of active time.


18 lemons, zested. Be careful not to get any of the white pith in with the zest because it is bitter.

1 Bottle (750ml) 100 proof vodka

1 Bottle (750ml ) 80 proof vodka

3c sugar (used in step 2)

3c water (used in step 2)


A 1 gallon glass jar, a zester,  and a strainer (used in step 3)


Step 1: Put the lemon zest in the gallon jar and fill it with half of each bottle of vodka. Put the jar in a dark corner and leave it to steep. I usually leave mine for 30 to 40 days. You can leave it for at little as 2 weeks but it just gets better and better as it matures.


Most recipes use 100 proof vodka only because limoncello is stored in your freezer and you do not want it to freeze.

The first year I made limoncello I used a bottle of Grey Goose vodka. Well – I’m just spoiled after that. I’ve since tried a variety of less expensive vodkas. One year I bought a much lower priced vodka and ran the vodka thru a filter 8 times but even with all that filtering the limoncello came out with a slightly bitter edge.

untitledI find the 80 proof smoother so I mix them. The 100-proof vodka is basically acting as an anti-freeze – but what an anti-freeze!

The vodkas I am trying this year are Polar Ice and Burnett’s Vodka.

Steps 2 and 3 will be on the blog site on the first of December!



Chinook Pimm’s Cup

20150516-_MG_1444Pimms cup.jpg-1444

My favorite summer drink is a Pimm’s Cup (though champagne is my all-time favorite drink).  Pimm’s is an English liqueur and there are six versions, each based on a different liquor.  The Pimm’s No. 1 Cup is made with dry gin, liqueur, fruit juices and spices.

I was taught that the proper way to make a Pimm’s Cup is with a jigger of Pimm’s No. 1 poured over ice, with bitter lemon (a tart, carbonated lemon drink) filling the glass.  The glass is then garnished with cucumber and a sprig of mint.  I’ve seen garnishes of lemons, apples, oranges, and strawberries draped over the rim of a Pimm’s.

Until recently it has been hard to find bitter lemon.  However, the bartender at the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans made my life easier and a bit happier as he made a wonderful Pimm’s Cup with ginger ale.  If you want to get fancy and make a Pimm’s Royal Cup you can add your Pimm’s No. 1 to champagne…perfection.

When sailing in Grenada on a 42’ boat named Chinook, we could not find Pimm’s No.1 at the store where we provisioned our boat. Aaarrrggghhh, a treasure hunt was on!  On the island of Carriacou, walking by a bar, we espied a half-filled bottle of Pimm’s.  I asked if I could purchase the bottle but the bartender did not know how to charge us.  My dear friend Debbie suggested we buy six shots, which the bartender did know how to price. Carefully the bartender poured each shot into an empty bottle for us to take. Lo and behold, it was just the amount of Pimm’s left in the bottle. We did a happy dance back to the boat – the dance in the dingy was rather cute.

20150516-_IMG_0659 pimms bottle.jpg-0659

As we prepared drinks at the 5 o’clock hour we found the mixed bag of herbs contained no mint – it was all the grocery store had – so we muddled lemon grass and basil creating the Chinook Pimm’s Cup.  It is a wonderfully refreshing riff on an old standard.

Chinook Pimm’s Cup

In a 12oz glass, muddle two small basil leaves and a half inch of lemon grass.

Fill the glass with ice

Add “three fingers” of Pimm’s (put three fingers along the side of the glass at the bottom, parallel to the counter top, and pour in Pimm’s till it reaches the same height as your fingers. OK, for those of you who like to measure – 1.5 oz.)

Fill the glass with ginger ale or bitter lemon.

Add a slice of cucumber and lemon for garnish.