Winters in SoCal

Photo by Susan Whitney. Vintage coupe by Peg Leg Vintage.

Winters in SoCal

2 oz Pelotón de la Muerte Mezcal
0.5 oz Campari Liqueur
1 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
0.75 oz Sage-infused honey simple syrup (recipe below)
1/2 tsp lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.

Garnish with grapefruit twist and sage leaf.

Nothing makes me pine for LA like a winter storm warning. Maybe it’s the the screenshots my sister-in-law texts with a gigantic sun and, “66°.” It’s hard to tell if I’m laughing or if it’s just my teeth chattering. What’s certain is that it’s too cold for me to take a finger out of my mitten to respond, “B-b-b-b-bite me.”

I live on the East Coast, and this joint is lousy with West Coast haters. “Californians are flaky,” they say. “Everyone’s so full of themselves.” “They’re always master-cleansing.”

I call bullshit.

I’m guessing good, old-fashioned jealousy is at the root of it. I spent Christmas of 2014 in LA and walked by a house that had enough pomegranates, grapefruits, and oranges hanging over the public sidewalk to hook me up for a month. The place is paradise!

So, while I wear two layers inside my 68° house and stare out at the snow gathering around the sage in my front yard, I decide to mix up a taste of Southern California. Grapefruit immediately leaps to mind, as does Mezcal, which has a smoky flavor that leans more winter than tequila.

I make a sage-infused honey simple syrup by mixing 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil with 1/4 ounce fresh sage leaves. I then cut the heat and let the sage steep as the syrup cools. Once cooled, I strain out the leaves.

Photo by Susan Whitney.

Next, I juice half a ruby red grapefruit and take my first run at the cocktail. Two ounces of Pelotón de la Muerte Mezcal, 1/2 ounce of sage syrup, 3/4 ounce of grapefruit juice and a couple drops of grapefruit bitters go into a shaker. I don’t know how a drink with two ounces of mezcal can taste watery, but it does.

For take two, I add 1/4 ounce more of both the syrup and the grapefruit juice, but it still lacks body and could benefit from a touch of lime.

I scan my bar and lock eyes with a bottle of Campari. Perfect. For take three, I ditch the grapefruit bitters and add 1/2 ounce of Campari and 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice to 2 ounces mezcal, 1 ounce grapefruit juice and 3/4 ounce of the syrup. I shake it, strain it into a chilled coupe, and make a garnish by poking a small hole in a grapefruit twist with the tip of a wine corkscrew and threading the stem of a sage leaf through it.

The result isn’t as good as wearing a hoodie and some shades while gazing up at a palm tree, but it’s close. I just texted the picture to my sister-in-law.

Sage-infused honey simple syrup recipe

1/2 cup honey
1/4 oz fresh sage leaves

Mix equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan, then add sage leaves. Bring to a boil, then cut the heat and let the sage steep. Once the syrup cools, strain it into a container and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Fiona says:

    Hey! Just checking out your blog, I love it! I’m thinking of making this drink ‘winters in socal’ for my birthday dinner party in a punch bowl. I’m not too keen on a smokey flavor of Mezcal, would you recommend any other tequilias for this? Also, is this recipe just for one cocktail? I’ll be making it in a bowl for 20-30 people.


    1. tippledpink says:

      Thanks for checking it out, Fiona! First, I’d substitute Espolón Tequila Blanco for the mezcal. It’s affordable but delicious. The recipe is for 1 drink, and if you simply multiply the recipe by 20 or 30, your party might be a short – albeit eventful – one. To turn it into a punch, try this:

      1. The night before, throw a bottle of prosecco & a liter of club soda in the fridge. Next, make an ice mold using a bundt pan or whatever you have handy. Bonus points – Arrange some sliced ruby red grapefruit inside the pan before freezing.

      2. Mix 2 bottles of Espolón Tequila Blanco, a half bottle of campari, 2 cups ruby red grapefruit juice, 1.5 cups lime juice, & 1 cup sage-infused honey simple syrup in your punch bowl, place a sealed bag of ice in it and put it in your fridge to chill.

      3. When you’re ready to serve, take out the bag of ice, pop in your ice mold, add the chilled bottles of prosecco & seltzer, then grate a little allspice on top because you’re fancy like that.

      Have fun! Let me know how it works out, because I haven’t tested this recipe.


    2. tippledpink says:

      Also, happy birthday!


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