We first stumbled across the gorgeous Mai in Rebekah Peppler’s Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way: A Recipe Book. As winter turns to spring, fresh flavors blossom around us and the weather fluctuates between cool and warm. The citrus-infused Mai cocktail bursts with bright colors, yet remains light and effervescent. It’s a drink made for the season.
Peppler was lucky enough to test this cocktail during California’s citrus season and had access to a plethora of fresh fruit options (lemon, blood orange, Meyer lemon, lime, clementine, grapefruit, amandarin, and mandarinquat). Spirited–like most people–simply had to make do with what was locally available. Fortunately, we’re based in Los Angeles and we got our hands on some fresh squeezed tangerine juice. We recommend this direction as the powerful and tangy orange-colored fruit offers something a little different from the usual citrus options.
To keep things in the California mindset, we decided to use LA’s own Mulholland Gin, which possesses a light, citrus-oriented flavor of its own. The Gin features juniper, coriander, and angelica on the palate, and there are notes of French lavender, Japanese cucumber and Persian lime on the nose. Distilled six times from 100% non-GMO corn, it’s a Gin that packs a wallop, boosting a 96 proof stamp. And yes, it’s every bit a California Gin as it’s.
The combo of the tangerine juice and Mulholland Gin are perfect for this Spring sipper. Throw in some Lillet Blanc and even if you’re stuck inside, you’ll feel like you’re experiencing Spring in Bordeaux.
2 ounces fresh citrus juice (we used tangerine juice)
2 ounces Lillet Blanc
3 or 4 dashes Angostura bitters
Sparkling water, chilled
1 fresh bay leaf
In an ice-filled lowball wine glass, combine the citrus juice, Lillet, and bitters. Stir to combine, then top with sparkling water and garnish with a bay leaf.