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In an effort to maximize my consumption of amazing farmers' market tomatoes, I'm up for trying them in just about anything—even cocktails. Obviously, you can pair up peak-season tomatoes with vodka for a classic Bloody Mary, but perfectly ripe tomatoes also play well with gin and tequila to make clean-tasting, unexpectedly savory cocktails.
Fresh tomato juice can also be cost prohibitive if you don't have a garden bursting with heirloom tomatoes, and many recipes require cooking to prevent separation. To avoid losing the star ingredient's super-fresh flavor and to keep our cocktails from getting super-pricey, I followed Kenji of The Food Lab's recommended method for adding tomato flavor to spirits: To make the tomato-infused booze for each of these drinks, blend a ripe beefsteak tomato with the base alcohol to make a puree, then strain out the pulp. The resulting spirit has just enough bright tomato flavor, making it perfect for mixing.
Fresh Tomato Martini
Not unlike a ripe, in-season tomato, the tomato vodka in this drink doesn't need a lot to dress it up. This is the cocktail equivalent of slicing up a beefsteak and showering it with crunchy salt. Here, a little bit of good dry vermouth, a touch of white wine vinegar for acidity, and—you guessed it—a pinch of salt make for an elegant seasonal cocktail.
Tomato Margarita with Fennel Salt
A savory, salty, sour margarita is the perfect place for the tomato. To keep this cocktail clean-tasting, with tomato at the forefront, skip the triple sec. Tomato tequila, lime juice, and agave are complemented with an aromatic homemade fennel salt made with toasted fennel seeds.
Tomato Gin Cobbler with Peaches and Basil
Playing with a handful of ingredients that can walk the line between sweet and savory, this drink is a bit of a surprise and a total crowd-pleaser. Starts by muddling juicy peaches and fresh basil, then adding a pour of London dry gin blended with beefsteak tomatoes. Fruity, herbacous, and tart, this sipper is the perfect way to hold on to late summer.