Happy first weekend of spring, friends! Wow — what a crazy, whirlwind week this has been. Between publishing our Living Room Reveal on Monday, my Style Me Pretty Living feature on Wednesday (pinch me!), a very exciting FASHION announcement (which has now published!), to a jam packed calendar full of events and meetings, plus 8 rounds of testing for this recipe (and subsequent cocktail ingredient runs before noon!), I’m finally getting a fresh cocktail for you this weekend. Initially this recipe was supposed to publish on Wednesday to welcome the first day of spring, so let’s just say my Spring Equinox Kiwi Elderflower Smash is fashionably late (like our spring weather) — but she comes bearing gifts! I’ve teamed up with Eau Claire Distillery once again to give away a full sized bottle of Prickly Pear EquineOx to one of you lovely Canadians (check out the bottom of the post for details on how to enter!).
After a long, snow covered winter, I’m elated to unleash my Spring Equinox Kiwi Elderflower Smash — a post-hibernation celebration of spring’s refreshing flavours in cocktail form! I figured it was time to pump the brakes on the gin train (let’s be real… there’s been a ton of gin drinking going down here at JustineCelina!) and introduce you to a completely unique spirit to welcome spring’s arrival. Today I’m working with Eau Claire Distillery’s award winning Prickly Pear EquineOx — a sweet, lightly citrusy, barley based vodka incorporating Alberta’s Prickly Pear Cactus with a special blend of spring botanicals. Complimented by a refreshing bouquet of elderflower, kiwi, lime, a kiss of wine, a dash of bitters and a splash of soda, I’ve created a seasonal elixir that pairs perfectly with longer evenings and balmier weather. I’ve also teamed up with 4 talented food bloggers across North America to bring you the Spring 2018 Edition of Connecting Over Cocktails! If you’re looking for some inspired cocktail ideas as we transition into spring, we’re totally got you covered — stay tuned to see what my fellow Food Bloggers of Canada are mixing up for you this weekend!
SPRING EQUINOX KIWI ELDERFLOWER SMASH
Since visiting Eau Claire’s tasting room in Turner Valley late last year I’ve become absolutely obsessed with their unique artisinal spirits, to put it mildly. As I mentioned in my Rose Infused Cherry Gin post, we’ve added several bottles of Eau Claire’s unique offerings to our bar — but the Prickly Pear EquineOx was actually my first love and my very first purchase from the brand. On first sip of the EquineOx over ice, I got sweet, kiwi-esque notes from it right away. This beautiful bottle has adorned our bar for the past few months and ideas for how to capture the defining properties of this incredible spirit in a cocktail have been dancing around in my head ever since. Once thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to experiment with fresh kiwi — and they’re in season this month!
Since the spirit itself was actually inspired by spring’s arrival on the Alberta prairies (hey spring… did you catch the memo?!), I figured it would be perfect in my annual spring cocktail. Did you know we actually have a lot of dessert land here in southern Alberta (sometimes we even shoot style content there!)? Having grown up on the prairies I’m very familiar with the Prickly Pear Cactus this liquor is distilled from. I think cactus are so beautiful and we have several in our home — in fact, the cactus in these photos is usually perched on the floor right next to the south facing windows of our newly refreshed living room! As soon as I learned Eau Claire’s EquineOx included Prickly Pear Cactus, I marveled at how clever and unique the spirit was — just another example of their local, farm to glass approach! Alberta is so lucky to have them.
Fast forward to March and this cocktail idea had already been marinating in my mind for a few months. Longtime readers will know I’m a fan of elderflower flavours (back in my sangria phase I worked with them in my Rosé Lychee Elderflower Sangria), but had been wanting to work with St. Germain liquer, specifically. I knew elderflower flavours would play well with the Prickly Pear EquineOx because the very first cocktail I ever mixed up with Eau Claire spirits the night I brought them home was EquineOx with Elderflower Tonic (yes, Eau Claire also makes their own tonics — and they’re to die for!). I love me a floral cocktail — and there’s no better time than spring to play with floral flavours!
Since my foray into cocktailing, I’ve noticed that I also gravitate towards drinks that feature Lillet Blanc — a French, wine-based aperitif. It’s lightly sweet and definitively floral with a wine essence. It’s an incredible mixer for cocktail loving winos, like myself! Although St. Germain and Lillet Blanc tend to pair will with gin, I really wanted to try them with the Prickly Pear EquineOx to create a unique cocktail — and I’m so glad I did, because the flavour combination is so quintessentially spring and works perfectly!
I figured that since these spirits and liquers are quite sweet (and floral), we’d need a citrus, herbal and fruity note to balance things out (but as a bonus, there is no added sugar, natural or refined, in this recipe!). I decided on fresh kiwi and lime for the fruity and citrus notes, a few dashes of Angostura bitters to enhance this spring elixir and a splash of soda water for a hint of effervescence. This is actually my first time including bitters in a cocktail — and I’m not sure why I waited so long! After taking part in an Eau Claire’s Cherry Gin cocktail making event and learning from their Tasting Room Manger that bitters are essentially like the ‘salt and pepper of cocktails’, I knew I wanted to start playing with them. If you’ve never used bitters before, don’t be intimidated — they’re actually quite mild tasting, not bitter at all (more herbal), and really help to balance out sweet and floral notes (not to mention, they’re believed to have some pretty interesting medicinal qualities!). If you pick up a bottle of Angostura Bitters, you’ll be hard pressed to use the entire bottle — even if you’re a cocktail fiend! It’s a great investment for your home bar if you’re looking to take things up a notch.
So, let’s get to making my Spring Equinox Kiwi Elderflower Smash, shall we friends? Although there may be a few more ingredients then you’re used to, if you’re into mixology or also building a well stocked home bar, these ingredients are fantastic staples if you tend to favour fruity, floral cocktails like me. You can find Eau Claire spirits in select stores across Alberta — including Kensington Wine Market, Liquor Depot, Co-op and Highlander liquor stores. St. Germain and Lillet Blanc are also available in most of those locations (except Liquor Depot), and I purchased our Angostura Bitters at Vine Arts — one of my favourite Calgary destinations for unique spirits, wines and ingredients.
Also, the palette for this spring cocktail was inspired by the Pantone Spring 2018 Colour Trend Report. Pastel lavender tones are a huge trend this spring — they also happen to be present on Eau Claire’s gorgeous label! I absolutely love the way they pair with fresh greens and can’t wait to explore lavender hues across categories here at JustineCelina this spring.
Yield: 1 cocktail
• Kiwi slice
• Lime slice or peel
• Edible flowers
1. Add a few cocktail ice cubes to your glass.
2. Add Prickly Pear EquineOx, St. Germain, Lillet Blanc and Angostura Bitters to your glass.
3. Add freshly squeezed lime juice to your glass.
4. Add the contents of half a kiwi into your glass by slicing it down the centre and squeezing the fruit (plus whatever juice is produced) over your cocktail glass. This is a more effortless was to achieve a muddled effect — but since we’re not adding any sugar to this cocktail, it works perfectly!
5. Add soda water. Stir to combine.
6. Garnish with your fruit or flower (or both!) of choice and enjoy immediately!
SPRING EQUINEOX KIWI ELDERFLOWER SMASH
- 1 oz Prickly Pear EquineOx
- 2/3 oz St. Germain
- 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 oz fresh kiwi juice (half a kiwi)
- 1/2 oz soda water
Add a few cocktail ice cubes to your glass.
Add Prickly Pear EquineOx, St. Germain, Lillet Blanc and Angostura Bitters to your glass.
Add freshly squeezed lime juice to your glass.
Add the contents of half a kiwi into your glass by slicing it down the centre and squeezing the fruit (plus whatever juice is produced) over your cocktail glass. This is a more effortless was to achieve a muddled effect -- but since we're not adding any sugar to this cocktail, it works perfectly!
Add soda water. Stir to combine.
Garnish with your fruit or flower (or both!) of choice and enjoy immediately!
CONNECTING OVER COCKTAILS LINK PARTY | SPRING 2018 EDITION
Looking for more spring cocktail inspiration? Check out these refreshing spring sips from some of my Canadian food blogger friends! If you’ve been with me for awhile, you’ve likely heard me praise their talent, passion and creativity — their work (and support) is a constant inspiration to me. Not to mention, they sure know how to make a cocktail! There are a few fresh faces in our Connecting Over Cocktails family spring, so be sure to swing by for a spring cocktail and tell them I sent you!
Bernice at Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen’s The Mastical Maia | A Springtime Elixir
Dana at Killing Thyme’s Spiked Strawberry Lemonade Fizz
Evelyne at Cultureatz’s Lilac Violet Wedding Cocktail
Jess at Cooking in my Genes’s Grapefruit Lavender Spring Blossom Cocktail
(NOW CLOSED) EAU CLAIRE DISTILLERY PRICKLY PEAR EQUINEOX GIVEAWAY!
It’s Prickly Pear EquineOx giveaway time! Eau Claire and I had so much fun teaming up for a giveaway last time (and you guys really seemed to love it, too!) we’ve decided to do it again! I want everyone to be able to sample their spirits and learn how to make craft cocktails at home — and now you have the chance to do just that!
So, what’s up for grabs? This time, we’re giving away a full sized bottle of my first love, Eau Claire’s Prickly Pear EquineOx!
To enter to win a bottle of Prickly Pear EquineOx, valued at $48.95:
• Follow JustineCelina on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
• Follow Eau Claire Distillery on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
• Leave a comment below telling me your favourite spring cocktail!
Bonus entry for Instagram users:
• Head over to this post and follow the instructions!
Contest open to Canadian residents until March 31st, 2018 at 11:59pm MST. Must be a Canadian resident of legal drinking age to enter. Good luck!
CARE FOR ANOTHER ROUND? MORE SPRING INSPIRED, FRUIT FORWARD COCKTAILS
Have I convinced you to check out Eau Claire’s amazing spirits yet? If you haven’t already, you really should — they’re truly in a league of their own! As always, if you whip up Spring Equinox Kiwi Elderflower Smash (or any of the other cocktails from this spirited spring collab) please let me know how you liked them — I love your feedback!
Feel free to leave me a comment, or tag me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I’d love you to hashtag #justinecelinarecipes in your recreations so I can find them — browsing my feed and stumbling on your beautiful recreations is one of my favourite feelings! I also have a Pinterest board for my recipes if you’re looking for more plant based culinary inspiration and creative seasonal cocktails. Thanks for joining my food blogger friends and I today to bring in spring! Cheers, everyone — enjoy your weekend and best of luck if you’re entering the giveaway!
Disclaimer: Thank you to my friends at Eau Claire Distillery for providing the Prickly Pear EquineOx I used in this recipe and for facilitating this giveaway. Thank you to Rebecca Dawn Design for the blooms I used to style this post and to my friend Kate for lending her tastebuds. JustineCelina uses affiliate and referral links, which allow me to receive a small commission when you make a purchase through one of my links. Thank you for supporting the brands and businesses that support JustineCelina.com!