It’s Friday. It’s 95 degrees and rising. My kids are out of town with their grandparents. And I haven’t cooked since Monday.
There’s only one thing to do – make cocktails. This hibiscus tea cocktail will do nicely. It’s a blend of vodka, hibiscus tea, and pineapple juice and has just the right amount of sweetness. It’s everything a good vodka cocktail should be. And you can’t beat the color for a summer pick-me-up. The recipe is courtesy of Brennan’s of Houston where I had the pleasure of dining earlier this week.
I was one of the lucky guests at a food event hosted by Brennan’s of Houston for members of the Houston Food Blogger Collective. Brennan’s was featuring items from their 777 menu as well as some new dishes for summer. The 777 menu is available at the Courtyard Bar and offers 7 appetizers, 7 cocktails and 7 wines for $7 each. This hibiscus tea cocktail which Brennan’s calls the Courtyard Bar Tea is one of the offerings on the 777 menu. Also on the menu is the Island Shrimp Ceviche, my favorite dish of the night, and it alone would be worth a return visit for happy hour. It’s a zesty blend of shrimp, avocados, red onions, red and yellow bell peppers, lime juice, and a splash of vodka served on tostones.
The biggest treat of the night was the cold seafood station. It was an incredible spread of some of the most beautiful, fresh and delicious seafood I’ve ever had. Items at the station included tuna crudo, blue crab ravigote, cajun spiced boiled shrimp, West Indies crab claws, creole smoked catfish dip, and Bluepoint oysters on the half shell. Yes, I made multiple trips back to the seafood station.
As if all that wasn’t enough, we were also treated to some house-made boudin served with creole mustard and topped with finely shredded swiss chard and purple cabbage.
And finally there was honey roasted crispy duck served on crawfish fried rice with chayote squash and blueberry sauce. Oh my, was it good. It takes 3 days to prepare the duck which involves stuffing it with a citrus blend, using an air compressor to separate the skin from the meat (to ensure crispy skin), hanging it to dry, dipping it in a star anise broth and then hanging it to dry again before roasting it in a special oven. The result is a perfectly roasted duck with deeply browned skin and succulent meat.
The evening ended with a visit to the kitchen with executive chef, Danny Trace, and executive sous chef, Martin Weaver. We were invited to help prepare some Shrimp Chippewa (shrimp flamed in Cognac served over goat cheese stone ground grits) and Brennan’s signature Bananas Foster (bananas flamed in rum served over vanilla ice cream). You know you’re having fun when flames are involved.
It’s been way too long since the last time I was at Brennan’s and I was happy to be reminded why they continue to be one of the best restaurants in Houston.
Note: I was invited to attend a tasting at the restaurant as a member of the Houston Food Blogger Collective. All food and drink were provided by Brennan’s. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that help make Taming of the Spoon possible.
For the hibiscus tea
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup loose leaf hibiscus tea or dried hibiscus flowers
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
For each cocktail
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1/2 ounce hibiscus tea
- 1 1/4 ounces pineapple juice
- Mint sprigs, for serving
- Maraschino cherry for serving
For the hibiscus tea
- In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add hibiscus tea and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain tea through a strainer. Discard tea leaves. Add sugar to tea and stir to dissolve. Chill tea mixture until completely cold.
For each cocktail
- Stir together vodka, tea, and pineapple juice in a cocktail glass. Top with ice and garnish with mint and a cherry.
Recipe courtesy of Brennan’s of Houston.