I don’t know about you, but when the temperature spikes up to the 80s and days start getting a little bit longer…I get a little feverish. I’m talking summer vacation get me out of here I’m ready to sit by a pool with Bret Michaels‘ rock memoir kinda fever. (Okay, maybe that last part is just me). Regardless, summer is flirting with us big time and this sunny Californian weekend particularly hit me hard. Today,  while I tried to harness the last of the weekend’s light and not think about the alarm going off early tomorrow morning; I created a little happy hour treat that even those of you frustrated with the lingering frost can enjoy.

Nothing screams “come to me summer!” like a minty citrus cocktail over crushed ice. This one is particularly easy, but trust me, you will still wow your guests. Grapefruit, bourbon, mint and bitters – four best friends just waiting to get together and dance around the May Pole called your mouth. Mixed cocktails not your thing? No problem, a robust Rosé would also nicely compliment the snack below.

CITRUS BLOSSOM JULEP

  • Muddle 1 teaspoon sugar with mint
  • Add 1 part bourbon to 2 parts fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Add 1 drop of citrus/fruit bitters of your choice (Featured: blood orange ginger by artisanal purveyor Bitter Tears)
  • Shake over ice and strain into glass
  • Garnish with grapefruit peel and mint leaves

This sunset treat is inspired by one of my favorite neighborhood establishments, Barbrix. If you live in the Los Angeles area I highly recommend not only visiting for dinner and wine, but also signing up for one of Chef Don’s cooking demonstrations. Prepare to be wildly entertained and happily fed. The Barbrix menu changes often reflecting seasonal goods and this particular dish reflects just that: Pepper crusted seared ahi tuna drizzled in a ponzu grapefruit dressing and served with kumquats and cucumbers.

Light and flavorful, the ponzu has citrus notes which compliment not only the fish, but  also will sings with the grapefruit and kumquat fruits added to it. One important note: Kumquats are not for the light of palate. They are surprisingly tart and I highly recommend placing the paper thin slices into your ponzu/grapefruit dressing to mellow them out. Again, this is a very easy dish to throw together and yet has all the impressive qualities that will delight anyone luckily enough to join you during this festive seasonal shift.

SEARED AHI WITH PONZU AND KUMQUATS

  • Add 3 parts fresh squeezed grapefruit juice to 1 part ponzu in a bowl
  • finely slice kumquats and add to the dressing mixture, let sit for at least 15 minutes
  • Rub ahi with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Sear ahi briefly; less than 40 seconds a side in a cast iron pan lightly coated with grape seed oil
  • Remove fish from skillet and let rest for 5 minutes
  • Dress plate with thinly sliced persian cucumbers and the marinated kumquats
  • Place sliced ahi on plate and drizzle with ponzu/grapefruit dressing
  • Garnish with fresh peices of grapefruit