Greetings From Peepster, er… Easter Island
Let’s cut to the chase. Easter is the best holiday ever and here’s why: It’s all about the chocolate eggs, marshmallow bunnies and warmer weather. Unlike Christmas, there is nothing even remotely stressful about Easter – no gifts to buy, not really anything you have to decorate besides eggs…and Paas has that covered. Vinegar, water, color tablet, fizz, dunk. Easy-peasy. Easter is the calendar’s way of letting us know we’re past the angst of the emotional holidays and it’s all good times (holiday-wise) from here to Thanksgiving. Fewer clothes shall soon be (not) worn and luaus are in our near future.
My friends think I’m kind of silly for making such a fuss over an otherwise low-key and fairly ignorable holiday like Easter, but they still show up for Easter brunch because 1) I’m a good cook, and 2) they’re curious as to what ridiculous centerpiece I’ll come up with this year. I’ve done the sacrilegious, like tying a chocolate bunny to a chocolate cross. I’ve dumped many pounds of drugstore Easter candy into a giant trough-like platter and handed out grab bags. But being the Tiki girl that I am, I usually find some way to infuse my love of Pop-Polynesia into Easter. (Well, into every holiday, given the chance.) Last year’s centerpiece incorporated my collection of Moai-style Tiki mugs, which I crammed full of assorted-colored Peeps. I entitled this fine ode to springtime, “Greetings from Peepster Island.”
But this is a blogsite about cocktails so let’s get to it. I believe that cocktails can and should be themed for every occasion. And what could possibly scream Easter louder than a cocktail made with Peeps? This is the third reason friends show up at my place for Easter – The Peeptini.
I know what you’re thinking. Gross. Well… fine. Don’t eat the Peep if you don’t like it. But this cocktail has a sweet flavor combination of springy flavors and, Peep garnish aside, is a lovely drink.
What are the flavors of springtime? No, not lamb. A lamb-flavored cocktail WOULD be gross! Strawberries, lemons, orange blossoms, maybe a little pinapple? Oh! Oh! What about passion fruit? Here’s where you can bring in the religious part of Easter! “The ‘Passion’ Fruit of Christ!
Start with good vanilla vodka. I prefer Swedish over Russian for the spring. It just seems happier to me. Now, depending on what color Peep you chose as your garnish, shake up equal parts of the appropriate color juice. If you decorate with a traditional yellow chick Peep, use pineapple, passion fruit and lemon juices. If you prefer the pink bunny Peep, then go with strawberry juice, a drop or two of orange flower water and a squeeze of lemon. (The juice from defrosted strawberries works really well, and you can add a bit of simple syrup to it to sweeten it up, if you want. Or, blend fresh strawberries with a little sugar and water.)
You can buy colored sugar at cake decorating stores and also Williams Sonoma. Rim your martini glass in the color sugar that matches your Peep choice. Add your Peep garnish and serve your slack-jawed friends. Sure, they’ll make stupid comments, but I’ll bet you they serve this to their friends next year.
If you don’t eat the Peep garnish au natural, stick it in the microwave and watch it expand to 15 times its size. This makes for fine post-brunch entertainment. Or, my favorite Peep consumable: toast a Peep over an open flame. The sugar-coating caramelizes while the inside melts, thus creating a “Peep brulee” kind of thing. Wash it all down with a frosty mug of insulin and have yourself a Happy Peepster… Easter!
Peeptini (for Classic Yellow Chick garnish)
First, rim your martini glass with the matching Peep-colored sugar. Take your matching Peep and make a cut on the bottom so that it will adhere well to the rim of the glass.
1 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz passion fruit juice
1 tbsp. Limoncello liquor or squeeze of fresh lemon
Pour all of this over ice in your shaker and work your arm muscle.
Pour it into your waiting martini glass and garnish the edge with the Peep.
If you are decorating with a pink Peep (a pink bunny, perhaps?!), you can make an alternate-version Peeptini by substituting the pineapple and passion juices for strawberry juice. I also like adding three drops of culinary orange flower water (hard to find, but Middle-Eastern food stores often carry it) to the strawberry version, for a flowery note in the drink.
Kari Hendler is a television script supervisor, photographer and regular contributor to Tiki Magazine (“The best magazine in the world!” according to Kari).