I come from a long line of golfers. But let me paint the whole picture. I’m pretty terrible. Despite my Dad’s (a former scratch golfer) best efforts, I never quite picked up the game. I can drive the ball with decent ability, but it's fairways, rough, sand and greens that give me trouble.
The golf course I grew up going to was nothing fancy. It was a 9 hole course with no bells or whistles and a hot dog steamer in the corner if you were hungry. If you felt like a swim, the ponds on the course would suffice. I kid you not. My father used to let us hunt for golf balls in the water hazards. Let me tell you, it built a lot of character.
Although my experience growing up on a golf course was far from the tony Country Clubs depicted on TV, in my adult life I’ve had the opportunity to play at a few ‘fancy’ courses. My game has really not improved, but I’ve found that I really excel at the 19th hole.
In my travels I became enamored with a true country club classic, the Transfusion. This classic cocktail is typically made with grape juice, ginger ale and vodka. Lots and lots of vodka. I don’t have a good explanation for why it’s called a transfusion, but a few working theories include: 1) the color resembles blood 2) After a long day on the course you feel revived (like a transfusion!) with just one sip 3) After one too many, you’ll need a blood transfusion the next day. If anyone knows why these are actually called Transfusions, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have golf tips, I’ll take those as well.
Ok, back to the drinks. After enjoying a decent number of Transfusions throughout the East Coast I decided it was time to make a batch at home. Plus, it’s Concord grape season! First things first, I made a quick and easy Concord grape juice with nothing more than a pound of grapes and a little lemon juice to get things going. Then I made a zippy fresh ginger simple syrup. Once cool, I shook those up with vodka and fresh lime juice and topped the whole thing with some bubbly ginger beer. The resulting cocktail is sweet, spicy and highly highly sippable. Seriously, take caution! These go down very easily!
Make a batch while Concord grapes are in season; they are much easier (and less frustrating) than a round of golf.
- 8 ounces fresh Concord grape juice, recipe below
- 8 ounces chilled vodka
- 4 ounces fresh ginger syrup, recipe below
- 2 ounces fresh lime juice
- 8 ounces ginger beer, or club soda, for topping
- Ice, as needed
- 1 lime, sliced, for garnish
- Crystallized ginger, (optional), for garnish
Add grape juice, vodka, ginger syrup and lime juice to a large mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Add a handful of ice, seal and shake until well combined.
Ice four cocktail glasses. Strain and divide the concord grape mixture into prepared glasses. Top each glass with 2 ounces of ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel and crystallized ginger (if using).
For the Concord Grape Juice
- 1 pound Concord grapes, stems removed and discarded
- 1 lemon, juiced
To Make the Concord Grape Juice
Add grapes and lemon juice to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, mashing the grapes as they cook.
Strain the grapes through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to release all the juices. Let juice chill before use. Makes 8 ounces.
For the Ginger Syrup
- 1 cup chopped fresh (unpeeled) ginger
- 1 cup sugar
To Make the Ginger Syrup
Add ginger, sugar and 1 cup of water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer and let cool before use. Makes 8 ounces.