As we drove across the river to Newport to attend a Yelp party at Star Lanes on the levee last week, David suddenly said. "Uh-oh.""What?"
"This party is where?"
"Star Lanes--it's a bowling alley."
"Yes, it's in Kentucky why…ohhh.. Ohhh no."
I quickly comprehended where David's reluctance came from. While we like some restaurants in Kentucky, one of the things that we've gotten used to in Ohio is not having to deal with cigarette smoke. I hate coming home from a restaurant, bar or music venue smelling like an ashtray. Hoping that it wouldn’t be too bad, we continued to Newport. It turns out the evening was full of pleasant surprises.
Star Lanes is not smoky at all, and the bars are shiny and well kept. We got our drink tickets and wrist bands, and the waitress was explaining to us the custom margaritas that were being served. "Sour mix, dos lunas tequila…." I looked around at the restaurant while she was explaining the ingredients. "….shaken, with bud light lime."
Say what? Bud light lime? In a margarita?! I stopped my perusal of the restaurant, looked up at David and quirked an eyebrow. We decided to get it anyway. Remember what I said about pleasant surprises? This was one of them. Surprisingly, it wasn’t bad. It was even pretty good.
The rest of the evening went well. The beer selection at Star Lanes is abysmally standard, with one bright spot--Alltech Kentucky Bourbon Barrel ale is available. We saw some friends we hadn't had the chance to talk to for awhile, had a good time, and fled back to the apartment before the Reds game let out and traffic went to hell.
For the next few days, we discussed how to make our own version of a beer-arita. And so theLittle Kingarita was born.
- 2 oz. homemade sour mix*
- 2 oz. 100 % agave tequila
- 4. oz Little Kings
Fill a pint glass half full with ice, then add sour mix and tequila. Top with Little Kings and stir. Garnish with candied lemon peel and enjoy!
*The sour mix is a multi step process, but it's worth it. David has detailed out the proportions and science behind the sour mix below:
Classic sour mix is 1 part citrus juice : 1 part simple syrup. Our sour mix is a little fancier. We juice lemons and limes, candy the lemon peels, and then use the remaining citrus-infused syrup from the candying process.
Simple syrup is 1 part sugar : 1 part water. The only thing that complicates it is that the sugar ratio is measured by weight, not volume, to make a true 50 Brix solution. Given the typical density of granulated sugar, you should use 25% more sugar than water if measuring by volume. You can use the simple syrup as-is or use it to candy the peels.
We are still experimenting with whether a 50 Brix simple syrup is optimal for all drinks. For the Kingaritas, the sour mix ended up with much more sugar than that. Unfortunately, it's hard to say exactly what the resulting concentration was. In addition to water evaporation while the peels were candying, the peels themselves took some sugar with them when they were removed from the pot. The resulting citrus-infused syrup could have been as high as 70 Brix!
If you're not going to experiment with candying the peels, here is our simple recipe to make about a quart of rich sour mix, suitable for Kingaritas:
2 cups lime juice (about 10 - 15 large limes)
2 cup sugar
1 cup water
Combine all the ingredients and shake vigorously until the sugar is dissolved. If you want to be more traditional (or reduce the time spent shaking), you can briefly boil the sugar and water before adding to the juice. In case you're curious, 2 cups of sugar to 1 cup water makes a 60 Brix syrup.