High Spirits: Introducing the Strawberry Pretzel-tini
An unusual take on a local holiday favorite
Season 5 of the sitcom “Happy Days” premiered in September 1977. In this episode, the character Fonzie, played by Harry Winkler, jumps his water skis over a shark. He wore his character’s iconic leather jacket during the feat.
Since that time, when a brand has gone so off-brand that it has become silly, or a trend sunsets, people use the idiom “jumped the shark.” So it goes with the -tini. A martini is a classic drink made with vodka or gin, a whisper of vermouth, and an olive (or four). A martini can be stirred or shaken, served up or on-the-rocks, or be “dirty” (with olive brine). When made just for you, it is a smooth end to the week.
But the -tini is something different. It is not a martini. It is a boozy cocktail served in a martini glass. In the past couple of decades, the appletini, the peartini, the cookietini, the espresso-tini, and many, many other cocktail-tinis have emerged and become popular.
Some establishments have entire menus dedicated to -tinis, and although I am an unapologetic fan of crisp, boozy concoctions served in martini glasses, the naming convention has past its prime.
Here, on these pages of Shore Monthly, we will jump the passé-tini over the proverbial shark with the strawberry-pretzel-tini.
Like all weird things, the strawberry-pretzel-tini started out in my family as a joke. I am a come-here, a transplant from northern Maryland — even though I have lived on the Mid-Shore for 15 years and am married to a man born and raised in Caroline County. It is a fine distinction: people who grew up here tend to like strawberry pretzel salad. (I know, not all Eastern Shore folk like it, and some come-heres do. Please do not write angry letters.)
Many have tried to change my mind with some new recipe, but I have yet to be swayed. I like other sweet-and-salty dishes, and love both pretzels and strawberries. I think it must be the whipped topping, or maybe that the pretzels usually wind up gummy. In any case, it’s not my cuppa.
Both my family and my husband’s family find my disdain for this dessert — please stop calling it a salad — amusing.
Last year, during the holidays, my mother and I came up with the idea for a strawberry-pretzel-tini. We planned for it for more than a month (I had to make the strawberry liqueur, which sat for several weeks) and, friends, it’s a lovely dessert drink. Sweet and salty, crisp and boozy, it will fill your cup with cheer.
When I was first planning this recipe, I could not find any strawberry-flavored booze available in local liquor stores. This year, however, I have noticed many different options for strawberry-flavored or strawberry-infused alcohol, so you have the option of making your own via the recipe provided on these pages or purchasing one you think might be good.
The key ingredients here are pretzels, strawberries, and booze. You can add whipped cream if you want, but it doesn’t need it. Just please don’t use whipped topping. You deserve better.
1-2 pounds strawberries
2-4 cups vodka
1-2 cups water
1-2 cups sugar
Clean and slice strawberries and place in container(s). Fill rest of container(s) with vodka. Seal container(s) tightly and store in a cool, dark place for 30 days. Every few days, give the container(s) a shake.
After 30 days, strain the strawberries from the liquid, and discard the strawberries. Make a simple syrup with equal amounts water and sugar, brought to a boil until a syrup is formed. Combine the syrup with the alcohol. Store the new mixture sealed in the refrigerator for three days.
3 ounces strawberry liqueur
4 T butter, melted
¼ cup crushed pretzels
whole pretzels and whole strawberries for garnish
Coat rim of martini glass with butter and then immediately immerse in shallow bowl of crushed pretzels.
Combine liqueur and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake. Pour into prepared martini glass. Garnish with pretzels and strawberries of your choosing.