Sake + Shochu Talk
Leap Frog

Last week, while reminiscing about the various fun summer activities I engaged in as a child, I remembered a game some kids liked to play which I was not so fond of--Leap Frog. I remember lots of kids getting a huge thrill from the game, but never me. Frankly, the idea of kneeling down and having some kid jump over my shoulders from behind, with the inevitable and all too common risk of his crotch smacking the back of my head, well, let's say it wasn't something I was thrilled to be a part of. Equally unappealing was the idea of being the jumper and chancing either a mistimed jump or having the kid lift his head slightly too soon, so as to cause my crotch to crash full speed into the back of his dome--I'll pass, thanks.

Now I'm an adult, and while I still have no love for the crotch-crash game (unless it's of a different kind, if you know what I mean) there is a different version of Leap Frog that I've come to enjoy--a version which of course comes in liquid form. Leap Frog also happens to be a name for a fairly old yet simple drink comprised of gin, lemon juice, and ginger ale in a highball glass. It's easy to make and quite on-the-money for those of you interested in putting in minimal labor during summer's final moments.

For the sake of being thorough I should mention there's another drink by the same name, but with completely different ingredients and definitely not as tasty as the first one mentioned. It's essentially like a grenadine-spiked Hotel Nacional cocktail. I'm not posting the recipe because it's just not that good (try the Hotel Nacional instead) but the recipe for this lesser version of the Leap Frog is at CocktailDB if you're interested.

To add to the confusion I've discovered a third cocktail called Leap Frog, which is the one pictured above. This one's the newest of them all and it comes from Jim Meehan of famed NYC speakeasy PDT. Although I haven't been able to ask Jim about this, it seems his version is actually a cross between the two aforementioned versions, with some additions of his own--if you compare the recipes you'll see the similarities. This one requires a tad more prep time but if you aren't overly dreading the countdown to fall and can spare a few more minutes for the sake of mixological magnificence, I assure you this one's worth every minute of your effort. But first the original.

Leap Frog
1 1/2 oz gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
ginger ale to top

Tools: something to stir with

Glass: highball

Throw a few lumps of ice in the glass and add the gin and lemon juice; top with the ginger ale and give a brief stir.

The thing to remember about highballs is that their very simplicity is the reason you don't want the flavors to mix too much. Instead, you want the taste to vary slightly with each sip, so a mere light stir is enough. Also, since highballs usually have a carbonated component, overstirring will allow too much carbonation to escape which produces a flatter tasting drink.

Leap Frog (pictured above, adapted from Jim Meehan of PDT)
2 oz gin
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz apricot liqueur (used Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot)
1/2 oz caster sugar
1/2 oz hot water
9 mint leaves
2 dashes orange bitters

Tools: muddler, shaker, strainer

Glass: cocktail

Pour the sugar and hot water in the shaker and stir until fully dissolved. Add the mint and lightly crush it with the muddler. Fill the shaker with ice, add remaining ingredients and shake like you got hit unexpectedly in the back of the head. Double strain into a cocktail glass and enjoy.

Double straining still leaves a few tiny mint pieces in the drink, which is actually what I wanted because they remind me of little lily pads. If you want a drink free of small floating mint pieces, use a tea strainer with smaller filter holes instead of a standard strainer.

How any of these drinks--perhaps with the exception of Meehan's hybrid--came to be called Leap Frog is anyone's guess, as I surely don't know and haven't been able to track down the answer. Perhaps a conversation with Meehan may reveal something I don't.

Nonetheless the moral of the story should not go unheeded--don't involve yourself in summertime activities that lead to crotches crashing in the back of other's heads (or into your head for that matter, unless of course you're into that sort of thing) thereby preventing bad summer memories. Instead, make cocktails that won't unduly interfere with your noggin (except for inducing inebriation) and allow yourself to make it to next summer in one piece.


*Got a cocktail question? Hit me on twitter @paystyle, email me at payman(at)lifesacocktail(dot)com, or simply drop me a comment below!

Paystyle was born in Tehran and grew up in Los Angeles (aka Tehrangeles) before moving to Brooklyn with his wife and co-pilot Vanessa Bahmani who provides the stunning photography of Pay's cocktail concoctions. Return to UMAMIMART every Wednesday for his weekly Happy Hour column.