the southern tonic
Named after our favorite Southern small batch tonic, Jack Rudy, this cocktail is great served to a crowd, reduced down to serve one or two, or served without alcohol at all. Lemongrass is a tropical plant that is sold as stalks, with a subtle fragrance of lemon. The finished cocktail is crisp and refreshing, with an orange color that makes for a pretty summertime drink.
Lemongrass Simple Syrup
1 large stalk lemongrass
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 ounces Jack Rudy tonic
8 ounces vodka, or to taste
16 ounces club soda
Ice, for serving
- Trim ends of lemongrass and remove its outer layer and discard. Using back of a knife, gently bruise lemongrass in 1-inch intervals (this allows lemongrass to release its flavor). Cut lemongrass into 1-inch pieces.
- Place water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add lemongrass and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow syrup to cool to room temperature. Remove lemongrass and chill until ready to serve.
- Cut oranges in half, and cut one half into slices. Add slices to a pitcher. Juice remaining halves until you have 4 ounces of orange juice. Add to pitcher along with 4 ounces lemongrass simple syrup, Jack Rudy tonic, and vodka. Give mixture a good stir. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, taste mixture and adjust if desired. Add ice to each glass and fill each 3/4 full with vodka mixture. Top each glass with club soda and serve.
Makes 1 pitcher, serving 4.
cook’s note: It’s important to use fresh squeezed orange juice, otherwise the drink tends to be too sweet.