A few weeks ago, the local heroes chosen as this year’s C-VILLE 20 were feted at a reception on top of the Live Arts building. Despite occasional rain, and with the help of a beautiful rainbow, the crowd enjoyed a delightful evening, thanks especially to the inspired cocktails and cuisine provided by Jeannie Brown, the hardworking and talented owner of Kiki. Brown gets a workout with every cocktail she prepares, and we are the lucky recipients of the fruits (pun fully intended) of her labor. Each cocktail is individually mixed using fresh-squeezed-while-you-watch juices, just as the dishes offered at Kiki are handmade every day with fresh ingredients.
Brown feels she’s on the leading edge of a trend toward making cocktails the old-fashioned way. “I like to preserve the integrity of the cocktails and make them the way there were meant to be made,” she tells us. Kiki, on Fifth Street SE, serves cocktails and a variety of dishes (such as hummus, marinated flank steak, and not-to-be-missed chunky guacamole) Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5:30pm until 2am. Brown also wants thirsty concert-goers to know that she will be open anytime there’s a show at the Pavilion. In order to make this “fabulous” Grapefruit Basil Limeade the way you’d get it at Kiki, you may have to hit a kitchen supplies store to purchase a muddler—and don’t forget the fresh ingredients! “No substituting Ruby Red and Rose’s Lime,” Brown admonishes. Believe us when we say that the results are well worth it.
Kiki’s Grapefruit Basil Limeade
12 oz. glasses
a muddler (a wooden drink mixing stick)
1 1/2 oz. No. 10 Tanqueray gin
juice of 1 whole grapefruit
juice of 1/2 lime
2 large or 4 small basil leaves
1 tsp. simple syrup. (“Simple syrup is simple. Three to 1 sugar to hot water!”)
In 12 oz. glass, add simple syrup, lime juice and basil. Muddle (“kind of press down and twist your wrist,” Brown explains). Pack glass with ice, add gin and grapefruit juice. Shake well. Garnish with a lime wedge and a pretty basil leaf. “And a long bright green straw would be great too!” Makes one drink.
Brown has several suggestions for making your cocktail party a success. First, “get lots of these ingredients and put them in nice bowls for your guests, so everyone can enjoy all the good smells from the fresh basil leaves and the cut halves of fruit. Plus, it’s so pretty!”
Another useful tip: Using fresh ingredients can be tricky, because not all fruit and herbs are as fresh or juicy as others. So if your grapefruits are small, make sure to add a tad more, and try to find fragrant basil and extra-juicy limes. Finally, a “great complement” to this drink is “The Bull,” which consists of fresh mozzarella balls cut to bite size, grape tomatoes cut in half, lots of basil leaves, a small dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and baguette slices. “Have it all near your bar so all those great fresh sights and smells make everyone hungry and happy!” Brown says.