Plums are for Drinkin!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Santa Rosa Plum Cocktails
Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids! And fresh plums from the yard aren't for munching -- although they do make a nice snack in the morning, afternoon or night. No -- fresh plums are for drinking! And I have the proof. Look Ma! Photos! Know what that is? That my friends is a plum cocktail. You might also find a Plum-Basil Gin Fizz in there somewhere.

And you just might find the recipes for the lip-smacking concoctions at the bottom of the page. Provided you're lucky.

Santa Rosa Plum Tree
In order to "make" a cocktail such as these -- several items are needed. Gin would be a good start. And with good gin available just about everywhere you look in the Sacramento area -- finding a bottle of the good stuff shouldn't be all that difficult. As for the other items? You'll probably need a fresh lime or two (lime juice works too), some sprigs of basil. And you'll need to harvest about 10-15 large, tree-ripened Santa Rosa plums from your tree in the front yard.

Don't have a Santa Rosa plum tree in your front yard? How about the back yard? No? Then, I'm sorry, but as the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld fame once lectured: "No plum cocktails for you!" Because, I'm kinda sorry to say this, but fresh, tree-ripened Santa Rosa plums are an absolute MUST for preparing drinks like these.

Ripe Santa Rosa Plums
The good, ol' Santa Rosa plum tree put out a right fine crop this year - and it was good to see. Last year I let a tree trimmer go to work on it because I allowed it to grow beyond my control. That's never a good idea. Because -- this was one excited tree trimmer. And he did a right fine job of cutting it back, sure enough. Unfortunately, he did a little bit too good of a job. We didn't get many plums last year.

Ahem, we all learn from our mistakes.

Sliced Plums Added to Simple Syrup Mixture
So -- this year I sent Mr. Hyperactive Tree Trimmer into retirement. I trimmed it myself last summer -- several times actually. But I made sure to keep enough fruiting branches around so I would hopefully enjoy a nice crop in 2014. Well, whaddya know? Tree trimming isn't so difficult after all. You just have to do it. That tree isn't going to trim itself.

Although the tree is raided regularly by a family of shrieking mockingbirds, who also dive-bomb the neighborhood cats incessantly, there's enough to go around. I must admit -- I've been enjoying a number of at-work breakfast breaks involving sliced Santa Rosa plums. There's always five or six for snacking on when I get home.

Notice That Color?
And did I mention the plum cocktails?

Unlike other fruit-producing trees that grace the Bird Back 40 -- the Santa Rosa plum isn't all that unique. In fact, it's one of the most common plum trees found in homes from one end of the valley to another. It loves our weather. It grows quickly. Treat it with a little love and care -- and it will reward you with sweet, fresh, dripping fruit goodness.

Like just about every other plum tree on the planet, it can and will drop plums on the grass or a sidewalk if it's planted too close to one. The birds also peck their share out of the tree. But that's about the only drawback that I can think of. And, if you don't mind picking up a few plums that have fallen to the ground -- well -- consider it a nice fruit producer for the month of June.

Plums Are For Drinking!
As for the drinks? I discovered those last year, online. If you just feed your Google search monster with the words Santa Rosa plums and gin, a multitude of recipes pop up. I find that many of them come from the Deep South -- or even southwest. And some even have quite the history, such as the Sugar Plum Dreams Cocktail, which was first served in 1862.

And did I fail to mention just how good plum cocktails are? If I did, forgive me. They are a treat not to be missed. So -- find yourself some Santa Rosa plums or any other plum that's in season right now and follow my path straight where I land on my face at some point.

I guess you can have one too many plum-tini's...

PLUM COCKTAIL:

Plum Cocktails
(prepare in advance)
- Heat over medium heat 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water in a saucepan until sugar dissolves
- Bring to a boil, then stir in 10-15 plums (pitted and cut into wedges). I also mashed the mixture with a potato masher
- Remove from heat and refrigerate until cold

(to serve)
- Fill glasses with ice
- Squeeze 1 lime wedge into each glass
- Stir in 1/4 cup plum syrup and 1 oz gin into each glass
- Add sparking water to fill, stir


The plum syrup, lime juice and gin can be combined in a pitcher for easy entertaining. Just fill glasses with desired amount and top off with sparkling water.

PLUM-BASIL GIN FIZZ:

MAKES 1 DRINK

INGREDIENTS
1 ripe plum, pitted, half diced and half sliced
5 large basil leaves
2 oz. gin
1 oz. simple syrup
Seltzer, to top drink
Lime wedge, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the diced plum and basil leaves. Fill the shaker with ice; add the gin & simple syrup. Place on the shaker lid and shake for 1 minute. Pour into a glass filled the sliced plum. Fill glass to the top with seltzer and garnish with lime wedge.

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