“Assume Nothing!” A mantra for The Crown as we worked towards opening our doors in March of 2019, the phrase became a Menu section, encouraging our visitors to drop their preconceptions and be open to new and delicious experiences. And now it’s the title of a recipe series, for you to recreate at home. Here’s to a year of assuming nothing!
‘Cuz I Love You
A Valentine’s Day Lemonade with a splash of spice and dash of color.
Yields 2 gallons. Can be scaled down easily at home, just keep that 1-1-6 ratio for a sparkly refreshing drink)
- 1 quart fresh Strawberry/Meyer Lemon Juice
- 1 quart Star Anise Syrup
- 6 quart of water for charging (if you don’t have a CO2 charger, just use sparkling water!)
Mix the juice, the anise syrup, and water (cold, filtered water to charge if you’re kegging, and sparkling if you’re making it at home). Voila!
Star Anise Syrup
Yields 1L of syrup
- 10-15 Star Anise Pods
- 500g Organic Cane Sugar
- 500g water
Toast the star anise in a heavy bottomed pot on low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the water and sugar, and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 20 minutes at least – the longer you cook the syrup the more heavily infused it will get. Turn off the burner and let the syrup cool before passing through a strainer to remove the pods. Store in a sealed food safe container. If kept in the fridge, will keep for 3 months at least.
Strawberry/Meyer Lemon Juice
- 5 lbs Meyer Lemons
- 3 Ripe Strawberries (for color)
Juice the lemons. You can do this by hand with any citrus press, which is definitely a pain if you’re making a lot of juice, but I’ve done 20lbs of lemons this way and so can you! This time, I used a Breville Juice Fountain.
Meyer lemons are delicious and even their peels are sweet, so I juiced the lemons whole, peel and all, and was left with a pale yellow, milky looking lemon juice. Perfection! Juice the strawberries directly into the lemon juice to taste, or until you reach a desired level of pink. I wanted something peachy, so I only used about a few ripe strawberries for the whole batch, but you can make it as pink as you like.
The Breville removes most of the seeds and pith chunks via centrifuge, but the juice still ends up with some floaty bits. Filter any remaining seeds and pith out of the juice with cheesecloth (a necessary step to avoid clogging a keg line, but you can leave it in if you’re at home mixing by cup and don’t mind some pulp), to leave a slightly hazy but smooth juice.
Elise Becker, Crown Barista here. In my opinion Valentine’s Day is a ridiculous holiday.
I spent a lot of time thinking about it in the days prior, about how every year it makes a lot of people feel like garbage for not having a partner, and all for the sake of selling something red or pink. Part of my job is making people’s day better through small interactions, and I hate seeing people being unhappy or feeling unloved. I wanted to make something special for Valentine’s Day for guests visiting The Crown—people who might not get a Valentine elsewhere—and I knew I could make a pretty pink drink, but I also didn’t want to make one more thing to sell.
So, I stayed after my shift at work and I made something to share, not to sell. I created it from a mixture of materials: some had been shared with me, and some were just things sitting around that needed to be shown some love.
A few weeks prior, one of my coworkers had brought in a ton of lemons, which were harvested from a family tree. Nothing had been done with them yet, and without intervention they’d spoil in the back fridge. When life literally gives me lemons, I love to make lemonade, so I set to work juicing them
A friendly neighbor barista from Sweet Bar (a cafe just a block up from The Crown) brought me a small container of beautiful, red, ripe strawberries, and after each of us ate one, I tossed the rest in the juicer with the lemons.
But lemonade needs more than just fruit juice: it needs sugar to make it palatable. I found a star anise simple syrup that we’d made to flavor a Persimmon and Anise Shrub, which had been set to the side when we decided the shrub didn’t need to be sweetened after all. This was the perfect syrup for me! The syrup had the exact qualities I wanted to add to my lemonade: bitterness and sweetness, together.
I went into our Brew Lab used a small Umami Mart jigger to play with the ratios of ingredients until I got the proportions right. I added sparkling water to cut the lemon juice and syrup and ended up with something with a strawberry-pink blush: lemony-tart enough to pucker your lips, sweet enough to keep you coming back for more sips, and balanced with a deep and bitter aromatic spice.
I took the ratio I used for a single glass and turned it into a recipe for a 5 gallon keg, which I filled and charged with CO2 to make it sparkly right out of the tap. Chef’s kiss from me to everyone.
I named the drink the “Cuz I Love You,” because that’s why I made it, and because Lizzo. We served it on Valentine’s Day in short, tall, or shot sized Umami Mart glasses.