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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

Cocktails For Mom, Or Anyone Who Could Use A Drink

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As we head into Mother’s Day weekend, let’s raise a glass to all the moms and mother figures in our lives. Bartender Derek Shaffer of CW’s Gin Joint in downtown Tampa offers advice for planning the perfect Mother’s Day cocktail hour, whether you’ll be celebrating in person or across the miles.

In our conversation, Derek shares ideas for treating Mom to a cocktail or mocktail hour that won’t leave her washing dishes on her special day.

“The labor is going to have to be on your end,” Derek says, who adds that simplicity is the key to creating a cocktail. “You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with preparation or with having to find specific ingredients.”

Of course, every mom is different, but in his years bartending, Derek has noticed some similarities in their drink orders.

“You do tend to pick up on certain preferences, like anything related to bubbles. Moms seem to like champagne,” he says. “Something easy-drinking.” He notes that mothers tend to favor wine, citrus and floral drinks.

But whether your mom enjoys a pink drink or a fifth of whisky, Derek recommends these guidelines for creating a balanced cocktail to honor her:

  1. Start with a base, which may be alcoholic or nonalcoholic.
  2. Add a simple syrup or other sweetener.
  3. Balance the sweetness with citrus.
  4. Add aromatics, such as thyme, rosemary, sage, mint, tarragon or other fresh herbs.
  5. Garnish the drink with a citrus wheel, edible flowers, dark cherries or something else to provide an inviting color contrast.

“It’s just like getting her a bouquet of flowers. You drink with your eyes first, so you want… color contrast, fresh ingredients, whether it’s fruit or herbs, and if you’ve got some nice glassware, that’s a bonus, too,” Derek says. “It’s a complete package.”

We also recognize that Mother’s Day can be painful for some people. If that’s your situation, then we hope this episode inspires you to honor someone else special, or just do something nice for yourself.

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