Tamarind Cocktails

Aromatic lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, and spicy ginger combine with tart fruity tamarind and rich, sweet coconut sugar to create a potent and delicious Tamarind Cocktail Base that can be used in all kinds of concoctions. Combined with rum and fresh lime juice, it becomes a zippy Tamarind Daiquiri. With the addition of tequila and a splash of club soda, it becomes a refreshing Tamarind Cooler. Or try it in combination with your favorite iced tea for Tamarind Arnold Palmer. Lara Lee, who created the Tamarind Cocktail Base, also loves to add a splash of it to Dark and Stormy cocktails and Mojitos. Want to prepare your cocktail mix in advance? Simply freeze the tamarind cocktail base in ice cube trays and they will melt quickly when stirred together with the remaining ingredients.

Tamarind Cocktails
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Tamarind Cocktail Base

Active 10 min; Total 40 min; Makes about 2/3 cup (enough for about 4 cocktails)

The sourness of this cocktail base is refreshing and light, cut with floral coconut sugar that leaves a pleasant bitterness and bracing ginger for just enough piquancy.

1 medium (about 10-inch-long) lemongrass stalk

1 1/4 cups water

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, and smashed

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or packed light brown sugar

2 1/2 ounces wet seedless tamarind block (about 1/4 cup), torn into about 1-inch pieces

4 makrut lime leaves, torn in half

1. Trim and discard top 2 inches from lemongrass stalk. Leaving root end attached, cut lengthwise down center of stalk. Place on a work surface, and hit firmly using the back of a chef's knife until bruised, 6 to 8 times. Combine bruised lemongrass, 1 1/4 cups water, and ginger in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Remove from heat. Add coconut sugar, tamarind, and makrut lime leaves; using a whisk or fork, smash tamarind to break up as much as possible. Let stand 30 minutes.

2. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a blender; reserve tamarind and ginger in strainer, and discard lemongrass and lime leaves. Add tamarind and ginger to mixture in blender. Process until smooth, about 25 seconds. Place strainer over a medium bowl; pour blended mixture through strainer, pressing with the back of a spoon to strain as much of solids as possible. Scrape underside of strainer into bowl. Discard remaining solids in strainer.

Make Ahead: Store tamarind cocktail base in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Tamarind Cooler

Total 5 min; Serves 1

This Tamarind cooler pairs club soda with tequila and a splash of tart tamarind cocktail base. It goes down hot with a generous pour of tequila, but is equally refreshing as an effervescent, delightfully sour mocktail.

3/4 cup club soda

1/4 cup (2 ounces) tequila (optional)

2 tablespoons Tamarind Cocktail Base (see recipe above)

Lime wedge, for garnish

Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Add club soda, tequila (if using), and tamarind cocktail base; stir to combine. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Tamarind Daiquiri

Total 5 min; Serves 1

Sugary rum, floral lime leaves, and fresh lime juice get a hit of complexity from zippy Tamarind Cocktail Base in Lara Lee's fruity, sour, and sweet Tamarind Daiquiri.

1/4 cup (2 ounces) white rum

1 tablespoon Tamarind Cocktail Base (see recipe above)

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)

Makrut lime leaves, for garnish

Combine rum, tamarind cocktail base, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker; fill shaker with ice. Place lid on shaker, and shake until very cold and outside of cocktail shaker is thoroughly frosted, about 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe or daiquiri glass. Garnish with lime leaves.

Tamarind Arnold Palmer

Total 5 min; Serves 1

Lara Lee swaps lemonade for the complexly sour, lemongrass-laced Tamarind Cocktail Base in her riff on the classic non-alcoholic refresher.

1 cup brewed iced tea

2 tablespoons Tamarind Cocktail Base (see recipe above)

Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Add iced tea and tamarind cocktail base; stir to combine. Serve.

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