Sake Gumi
Gay Hemingway (left) and Summer of Love (right) 

This past Sunday I had rare the opportunity--via my cocktail consulting and event company, Life's a Cocktail--to use the power of mixology to help the forces of good, serving up cocktails in the name of marriage equality as a vendor in the first ever Illegal Wedding Fair.  The event was held in an amazing West Village townhouse called 632 on Hudson (which notably housed MTV's Real World 2001 cast), and featured a number of other wedding vendors willing to take a stand on this pressing issue. 

Umamimart's own Erin Gleeson and Vanessa Bahmani also pitched in on the effort, both as co-organizers of the event and as vendors via their wedding photography company, E & V Weddings, where they set up their signature wedding photo booth featuring a vintage turn-of-the-century 8x10 camera.

E&V Wedding Photography 

The massive townhouse venue also has a basement "speakeasy" space, which is where I was assigned to dish out my drinks.  Although the lack of air conditioning in the basement made it feel hotter than the Devil's ass crack, which in turn wreaked havoc on my ice, I still managed to turn out a couple of crowd pleasers. 

I created two cocktails specially for the event.  I called one the Summer of Love (above right, pink), made with fresh strawberry-rhubarb puree, vodka, and seltzer.  The other I named the Gay Hemingway (above left, light golden color), which was a marriage equality-inspired variation on the Hemingway Daiquiri. It consists of vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, Lillet, apricot liqueur, and honey.  Initially my idea was to use a light rum in the Gay Hemingway, like the Hemingway Daiquiri itself, but Absolut was kind enough to sponsor with some bottles, so a switch was made at the last minute--and luckily, it worked fine.

Summer of Love
1 oz vodka
1  1/2 oz strawberry-rhubarb puree (recipe provided below)
1/2 barspoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 tsp)
seltzer to top

Combine the puree and vodka in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake hard and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with seltzer and stir. Serve with a straw if you have one on hand.

Strawberry-rhubarb puree
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
4 stalks rhubarb, sliced about 1/4-1/2 inch thick
1/4 tsp almond extract

Place strawberries, brown sugar, boiling water, and almond extract in a blender and puree until smooth and combined.  Pour into a square baking dish and add the rhubarb, stirring to assure even distribution.  Bake uncovered at 300˚ for about 40 minutes, stirring every 15-20 minutes to make sure the rhubarb cooks evenly.  Once the rhubarb has softened, remove from the oven and puree in a blender.  At this point you can allow the puree to cool and use as is (which is what I did) or strain it if you prefer a thinner consistency.

Gay Hemingway
2 oz vodka (can also be made with a light rum)
1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc
1/4 oz apricot liqueur (I used Rothman & Winters brand)
1/4 oz honey syrup (2 parts honey diluted in 1 part water)

Combine ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake it like big Papa's belly on a boat during a hurricane. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and enjoy. Then do as Hemingway would and have about 16 more.

Every now and then you're fortunate enough to be a part of an event that matters beyond the dollars and cents, and this was one of those opportunities. And regardless of whether actual political change was made (it wasn't), it was no less refreshing to see other like-minded businesses using their enterprise as a tool for progress.  Cheers!

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

**Photo credits: Erin Gleeson Photography and E&V Wedding Photography