Lemon Thyme Cocktails Featuring Limoncello Rock Candy Swizzle Sticks

I fell in love with the idea of boozy rock candy a few weeks ago.

I know!  

Genius. I was just casually sucking down sugar crystals and pondering how I could improve the jittery high when it occurred to me. They are making all the things boozy these days. This place in New York City serves alcohol infused snow cones. It seems inevitable that someone, somewhere might get around to alcohol infused rock candy. But according to my Internet research, I am the first.

I get to plant my freak flag on planet boozy rock candy. Go me.

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I did have a little problem, though. I'd never made rock candy before. Like not ever. And the instructions have disaster written all over them. Rock candy involves two things I am pretty terrible at. 1: Being careful. 2: Being patient. I especially suck at that last one. I am more the bull in the china shop girl.

Get in there. Do it. Break the stuff. Apologize later.

So I talked myself into this one because I was that committed to boozy rock candy. I was willing to risk the agony of staring at a glass jar for days, anxious and feeling frantic with failure. Did my dreams of gorgeous, alcohol infused candy crystals come to fruition? Well... kind of. Let's back up and start at the beginning.

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Aha. There we are. Candy making basics. A fuck ton of sugar, water, limoncello liqueur and those lovely little swizzle sticks. No, I am not telling you where I got those swizzle sticks. Get your own!

Let's just say it involved a lot of licking and colorful tongues. That's all you're getting out of me.

Now comes the hard part. Boil. Wait. Boil. Wait some more.

Add the limoncello at the end. It's going to turn a gorgeous, golden color and you'll be so excited. Right up until you realize it's going to take five days before you can get even a glimpse of how this will turn out.

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This part is SUPER important. Are you paying attention? You have to seed the sticks. It sounds weird, but the sugar crystals need something to stick to. Get the sticks damp and roll them in sugar a few times. That'll solve the problem.

Onto the next conundrum. How to suspend the sticks. You'll need to rig something that allows the sticks as much immersion in the syrup as possible, but doesn't allow them to touch the sides or the bottom of the jar. It's complicated. This is what I ended up doing using standard sized mason jars with narrow mouths.

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And now we wait. And wait and wait and wait and wait. The recipe indicated it would be anywhere from 5-10 days. Mine took nearly two weeks. This could be because they contain alcohol and it doesn't crystallize as fast. Or it might be a factor of how impatient I became and how often I stirred them.

I'd hold them up to the light and peer at the jars with hostile threat. Crystallize, you fuckers!

Eventually, when I gave up and descended into complete despair, my sticks produced a respectable amount of growth.

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Ta Da! You have born witness to the colonization of planet boozy rock candy. Now my sweet little swizzle sticks need some friends to stir up trouble with. And I know just the cocktail.

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I promise I used to hate gin. But I'm an adult now and Hendrick's has convinced me I was just a sniveling, poor college student.

And yes, you're looking at the entire contents of this cocktail. Gin, lime juice, and a shot of limoncello. But before we do any of that, we need to talk about thyme.

It seems appropriate that after waiting so long for that damn rock candy, we have thyme on our hands. And we're going to do something pretty incredible with it. We're going to throw it on the grill. The warmth releases the aroma and really infuses the herb flavor throughout the drink. 

There is some muddling but let's just skip to the important part. The pour. I stuck with rustic mason jars and lots of ice. Accompany this cocktail with a fresh sprig of thyme and the limoncello swizzle sticks that provide the perfect balance between tart and sweet for your next summertime soiree.

Stir it up, friends and sip responsibly. Or not. Whatever.

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Lemon Thyme Cocktails with Limoncello Rock Candy Swizzle Sticks

For the rock candy:

2 cups water

5 cups sugar

2 Tbsp. limoncello

For the cocktail:

2 large sprigs fresh thyme; more for garnish

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

1-1/2 oz. gin, preferably Henderick's

1/2 oz. limoncello

Directions:

Dampen sticks and roll them in sugar to seed them for the crystals to grow. Boil water in pot on high

. Once it’s boiling, pour in the sugar one cup at a time. In between each cup, stir until it’s thoroughly dissolved and clear. Let boil for a few minutes longer, then add limoncello. If it's not yellow enough, feel free to add food coloring at this point. Take off the heat and leave for ten minutes. Pour into jars with sticks secured. Suspend the sticks with clothespins that do not allow the sticks to touch the bottom or sides of the jar. Fill the jars 2/3 full. Wait. A really long, fucking time. The recipe said seven days but I found mine grew better at 10-14. If you have trouble extracting the sticks, you can lower the jars into a hot water bath that'll loosen then.

Turn on your grill or prepare a charcoal grill. Once at 500 degrees, grill the thyme sprigs until fragrant and lightly charred, about 15 seconds. In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, gently muddle the grilled thyme with the lime juice. Add the gin and limoncello and fill the shaker with ice. Stir well. Strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with fresh ice, garnish with thyme, and swizzle stick. Serve. Marvel. 

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