This tart, spiced cocktail, the winner of our 2011 Home Cook Challenge Cocktail contest, was inspired by a cocktail that winner Mo Lyon sampled at Seattle's now-closed Licorous. It's Thai-inspired flavors pair beautifully with Southeast Asian food; it's also perfect on its own as an afternoon sipper. Note that the kaffir lime-infused vodka requires at least 5 days to infuse; this drink calls for planning ahead.
For the Kaffir Lime Vodka
- 750 ml mild, clean-tasting vodka
- 10 fresh kaffir lime leaves
For the Ginger Syrup
- ¼ cups finely grated fresh ginger
- ½ cups sugar
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Sparkling water, to top
Make the Kaffir Lime Vodka: Combine the vodka and kaffir lime leaves in a large mason jar (or another nonreactive vessel with an airtight seal). Store in a cool, dark place for 5-7 days, shaking the jar three times each day. Strain out kaffir lime leaves. Infused vodka will keep indefinitely in the freezer.
Make the ginger syrup: Combine grated ginger, sugar, and ½ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature for at least one hour; strain out solids if desired. Ginger simple syrup will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Make the cocktail. In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine 1¾ oz. infused kaffir lime vodka, ¾ oz. ginger syrup, and fresh lemon juice. Shake vigorously and pour out into an ice-filled glass. Top with sparkling water to taste.