Margaritas. I’m always jealous of people who can drink them. I feel like they are a staple in the world of cocktails. They just seem to symbolize a good time. But when I was in college, I drank way too many of them one night, was sick as a dog the next day, and haven’t been able to smell tequila since. So, I’ve been feeling kinda left out.
A few weeks ago, I went to Hub 51 in Chicago while I was there for a conference. On their drink menu they had a Five Alive, which came with a salted rim. Salted rim? No tequila? Could this be fate? I fell in love with that drink that night. It tasted similar to a margarita but without the pain of tequila and with the gentle, refreshing taste of agave nectar, grapefruit vodka and lime juice. For me, the salted rim made the drink. And I felt like I was part of a whole new club.
This weekend, I attempted to recreate this delicious concoction. It didn’t taste quite like what I remember in Chicago and it wasn’t the same color either. But it was damn good.
I’m going to continue to call this drink the Five Alive, since that’s what it’s inspired by. But I really think it’s a different drink. The ingredients at Hub 51 listed grapefruit flavored vodka, which I could not find (in the one and only liquor store where I looked). So I came up with a brilliant plan to infuse my own, something I had never done before. I Googled how-tos, but ultimately, I just made it up as I went along. I also made up the measurements that I’m listing below. I encourage you to do the same and play around with them until you get a taste you like. And please note that you should infuse your vodka a day or two in advance of making your batch of Five Alives.
FIVE ALIVE COCKTAIL
(amounts are for a large pitcher of Five Alives)
- 3-4 large grapefruits
- All natural, unsweetened grapefruit juice (I used Simply Grapefruit)
- 4-5 limes, plus extra slices for garnish
- 3/4 of a bottle of vodka, 25 ounces/a fifth (I prefer Prairie Organic Vodka)
- Agave nectar
- Salt (coarse sea salt is best)
To infuse the vodka, make sure you start a day or two in advance. (I made mine the day before because I came up with the idea too late.) Slice 2 grapefruits in half or in quarters and squeeze as much juice out of them as you possibly can into an air tight container. I do mean squeeeze! It’s okay if there is a lot of pulp and seeds. Slice the other two grapefruits into quarters and remove the rind. Squeeze whatever juice you can get from what’s left on the rind into your air tight container. Give your grapefruit chunks a light squeeze and then place them into the container as well. Basically you should have a good amount of grapefruit juice mixed with chunks of grapefruit and pulp in your airtight container. Add about 2 cups of vodka. There should be more vodka than juice. If I had had more grapefruits, I would have put more grapefruit chunks in there. But like I said, I came up with this infusion idea too late and was totally winging it. So add as many chunks as you like. Store the container in the fridge until you are ready to make your Five Alives (no more than 2-3 days).
To begin making the batch of Five Alives, strain the vodka grapefruit mixture into a large pitcher. If you want, you can muddle the grapefruit chunks to get more juice, which is what I did. I put them in the collander over top of the pitcher and muddled them so I’d be getting their vodka infused juice.
Add the juice from 4-5 limes, plus extra lime juice if you have it. (I was lazy about squeezing limes so I added a few squirts of ReaLime juice as well.) Add about 1-2 cups of additional vodka. Add about 3-4 cups of the Simply Grapefruit juice (or whatever brand of grapefruit juice you’re using). Add a little less than 1/4 cup of agave nectar, maybe 4 tablespoons worth. Continue adding all ingredients until the drink is a good flavor, shaking and stirring well all the while. In the end, I used 3/4 of a fifth of vodka and half the bottle of Simply Grapefruit. Your drink should be light pink in color, the taste of the vodka should not be too strong, and there should be enough agave nectar to take off the edge of bitterness from the grapefruit, but not too much so that it’s too sweet. It should taste light and refreshing.
Serve over ice in glasses with a salted rim and a lime wedge. Shake or stir your concoction aggressively before each serving, as some ingredients will settle.
Note: While writing this post, I realized that Prairie Vodka has instructions on their website for infusing your own vodka. Pretty cool! I have a feeling this could mean trouble…