With the summer officially winding down, we're committed to helping you maximize the final stretch of warm weather, beach days, and backyard barbecues (unless you live in Los Angeles, in which case, well, lucky you).
What better way to do that than with spiked fruit? Alcohol and fruit have always complemented one another seamlessly. However, that perfect marriage is usually achieved by putting fruit into alcohol. So what happens when we put alcohol into fruit? Follow the five recipes below to find out.
>Tarragon might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you're looking for a refreshing treat, but combine the savory herb with vodka, agave nectar, and wild blueberries, and you get this cool treat.
>5 oz. vodka, preferably Tito's
>3 tbsp. light agave nectar
>1 lb. fresh wild blueberries, frozen, plus more for serving
>1 tbsp. packed tarragon leaves, plus sprigs for serving
>Pureé vodka, agave, and blueberries with 1 cup crushed ice (or small ice cubes) in a blender, adding cold water a few tablespoons at a time, until thick and smooth. Add tarragon leaves; pureé just until finely chopped. Serve with whole berries and tarragon sprigs.
>We've all heard of watermelon margaritas, but what about margarita watermelons? That's the idea behind this ingenious creation, which combines tequila, Triple Sec, flaked sea salt, and watermelon.
>1 small seedless watermelon, red or yellow, quartered and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
>1 cup sugar
>3/4 cup water
>1/2 cup tequila
>1/4 cup Triple Sec
>2 limes, halved or cut into wedges
>Flaked sea salt or coarse salt
>Arrange watermelon in a single layer in two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. Bring sugar, water, tequila, and Triple Sec to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.
>Let cool slightly. Pour syrup over watermelon wedges, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
>Remove watermelon from syrup, and arrange on a platter. Squeeze limes over melon, and season with salt.
>Is there another drink that defines summer more than sangria? We didn't think so. But for those of you who want who value individuality, this clever creation is a more than suitable alternative.
>5 tbsp. cold water
>3 packages unflavored gelatin (about 3 tbsp. total)
>1/2 cup sugar
>1/2 cup water
>1 cup orange muscat dessert wine
>1 1/4 cups Sauternes or similar sweet wine
>1 each grapefruit, blood orange, navel orange, tangerine, and Meyer lemon, or another combination
>Combine 5 tablespoons cold water and gelatin in a bowl. Let stand 5 minutes.
>Combine sugar, 1/2 cup water, and wines in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until sugar has dissolved. Add gelatin mixture, and whisk until melted. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat, and pour through a fine sieve into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Let cool completely.
>Cut peel and pith from citrus. Cut each segment from membranes, then cut horizontally into 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick slices (you will need 1 cup). Arrange in a single layer over gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.
>To unmold, run a knife around edge of dish. Using an offset spatula, gently coax gelatin from sides. Invert and turn out onto a cutting board. Trim edges, and cut into 1 1/4-inch squares. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, uncovered, up to 1 day.
>Vodka and tomatoes go together like peanut butter and jelly. How else can you explain the wild popularity of the Bloody Mary? Think of this one as a deconstructed version of America's favorite brunch cocktail.
>Flaked sea salt
>Crushed black pepper
>Cut tomatoes into wedges or halves. Season with flaked sea salt and crushed black pepper. Serve with glasses of chilled vodka.
>How can you possibly make this classic dessert any better than it already is? Easy. Instead of poaching your pear in water, use a full bottle of red wine instead.
>1 bottle dry red wine
>1 star anise
>1 juniper berry
>1/3 cup crème de cassis
>Julienned zest from 1 bright-skinned orange (about 1 tablespoon)
>2 whole cloves
>1/4 cup sugar
>6 firm but ripe Bosc pears, stems left on, peeled
>Combine all ingredients but pears in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add pears and cover with a parchment round. Reduce to a simmer and cook until pears are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. If necessary, turn pears very gently by rotating the stems with your fingertips so they cook evenly. Remove pears to a bowl, bring poaching liquid to a rapid boil, and reduce by half, about 10 minutes.
>Pour reduced syrup over pears and refrigerate, covered, for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Serve in shallow bowls or cups.
>Recipes courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.
>Get more recipes from Martha Stewart with a copy of Martha Stewart's Cooking School, and let us know if you have any boozy fruit favorites.