The flavors of carrot cake inspire this refreshing carrot cocktail with ginger, maple, and orange. Made with vodka, triple sec, and a splash of cream, it's a perfect beverage to enjoy out in the spring sun.
I've always thought it funny that carrots are considered a spring vegetable. By always, I mean for as long as I've known a few things about how vegetables grow.
It's funny because while you can start planting carrot seeds in the spring, your carrots aren't going to be ready until summer. Or if you plant them in summer, they won't be ready until fall. Sure, you can seed carrots in the fall, and if you cover or protect them through the winter, they would potentially be ready for picking in spring. But for most home gardeners or small farmers, that's probably not the case.
That means the carrots we're eating now are probably from last year's harvest. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. Carrots keep really well. And even when they go limp, carrots can rehydrate again in water. It's just odd that we associate carrots with spring. I'm blaming that creep the Easter Bunny.
When you have older or funky-looking carrots, juicing them is a great option because it doesn't matter how they look. (Though they'd also work in a stew, too.)
That's why I gathered up all of the older carrots hanging out in my produce drawer (for who knows how long) and got to work juicing them. Some were from our garden and some from a local farm.
The question then is, what do you do with carrot juice? The easy answer is you could juice other ingredients like apples and lemons and combine them to make some tasty combinations. Personally, I thought it would be fun to make a cocktail.
Before I get into the cocktail, If you don't have a juicer to make your own carrot juice, no problem. Fresh juices are widely popular and can be found in most large grocery stores in their produce area. While I like the idea of juicing, in reality, I don't use my juicer nearly as much as I could.
I started thinking about carrot cake and how that could work as a cocktail. After a few weird experiments, I decided on just two of the flavors I like best about the cake - ginger and maple. I also wanted to add the creaminess you get from the frosting, but I didn't think cream cheese was a good idea. I pictured chunks of cheese floating around the drink. No thanks. I figured a splash of cream would do the job instead.
Finally, when choosing the alcohol, I went with vodka because it's neutral and easy to flavor. I did end up throwing in a splash of triple sec for a hint of orange, another flavor that pairs nicely with carrots. I usually add some orange zest to my carrot cake. At some point, I got all these flavors right and was happy with the result.
Does this carrot cocktail taste anything like carrot cake? Not quite. But I do think it's well-balanced. It's not too sweet, not too heavy, has some earthiness from the carrots, and freshness with a garnish of orange segments and ginger. If you like a little bite, a piece of candied ginger makes a great addition to the top of the glass.
In crafting this drink, I realized that experimenting with cocktails is a lot of fun. You can start with small amounts of ingredients and make adjustments as you taste. Or when you need to, you can dump it out and start over. It's easier to do than with cooking or baking. My dairy-free Irish cream is another fun beverage you may want to try.
Although the carrots may not technically be a spring vegetable, they make a perfect cocktail to enjoy outside in the fantastic weather we're having here in Vermont right now.Print