Early this summer, we stopped by Philadelphia Distilling for a sample bottle of their new The Bay Vodka – yes, that’s right, vodka infused with Old Bay seasonings. It was surprisingly fresh and herbaceous without tasting synthetic, like so many ill-conceived “flavored” vodkas. Instead of dropping The Bay into Bloody Mary mix, as the bottle suggests, we envisioned a healthy twist -- a boozy granita that could be served at parties in cored-out fresh vegetables.
Experimenting commenced! Whatever we found at the farmer’s market got zooted, frozen, scraped with a fork, and served. This particular recipe is one of our favorites because it’s fresh and light and requires few ingredients, though you should feel free to experiment with different herbs -- parsley and dill also work well. Think of it as a spiked savory slushy. Serve granita on top of oysters, dob it on top of cold cantaloupe soup, or scoop it into halved avocado, cored-out cucumber, or red pepper boats. Here, we pile it into partially cored out Roma tomatoes for a deconstructed gazpacho.
4 small servings
2 ounces The Bay Vodka
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus zest of half a lemon
4 large basil leaves
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cranks black pepper (optional)
Combine ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth. Taste and make any adjustments – it may need more salt or a dash more lemon. The goal is to balance the freshness of the vegetables, with a touch of Old Bay flavor for a refreshing savory slushy.
Pour into a flat dish with a lip, like a 9-inch square pan or a large ramekin. Freeze for an hour or until set, then scrape with a fork to create a granular texture. Cover and store. For the best flavor, serve within 48 hours.
To serve: Scoop granita into hollowed out Roma tomato halves or into chilled dessert bowls. Garnish with basil leaves or basil flowers, if you like.