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Cocktails on a stick: How to make your own poptails

| Saturday, July 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

In the wake of the craft cocktail movement, could poptails be far behind?

“Poptails” (Octopus, $12.99) is the clever name for tipsy adult ice pops infused with a jigger of booze. The cookbook that recently crossed my desk is the brainchild of London-based food stylist Laura Fyfe.

I was initially intrigued by the idea of freezing alcohol, something that can be difficult to do. “You have to go easy,” Fyfe told me in a telephone interview regarding the amount used to spike each recipe, “but they still have quite a kick.”

Indeed, it's a delicate ratio. Still, Fyfe's ice pops are saucy even though they have only 4 tablespoons of alcohol per recipe. “Freezing dulls the flavors of the ingredient, so the alcohol tastes stronger than if you mixed it in a glass,” she said.

I made three flavors: the super-green cucumber Gin Zing, a tasty Pomegranate, Vanilla and Vodka and an English Summer Cup with slices of apple, strawberry and mint. The recipes are simple, delicious and complex, just the sort of layering of flavors we demand from our favorite cocktails.

But I must admit that during our photo shoot, more than half of the ice pops refused to unmold when pulled by the handle. When life gives you lemons, make slush instead. When I asked Fyfe about my dilemma, she said she always uses traditional wooden sticks.

On closer inspection, I realized every frosty photo in Fyfe's book was styled with traditional wooden sticks. A quick Google search revealed all kinds of poptails out there — check out endlesssimmer.com and Pinterest — and all of them on wooden sticks. (And I thought that was strictly an aesthetic choice, since none of the recipes specify wooden sticks over the plastic sticks that typically come with the molds sold at nearly every department store this time of year.)

“Wooden sticks are much better,” Fyfe told me, “because they hold and offer a bit more friction.”

She also advises dipping the molds in hot water to help get just enough melt to loosen the ice pop.

Like Fyfe, plenty of folks are getting on the poptail bandwagon as a novel way to beat the summer heat. Food & Wine magazine's July issue features Mojito-Watermelon Pops. Lindsay Laricks of Little Freshie, a Kansas City, Mo., area business that sells handcrafted sodas and all-natural snow cones, says she sees the trend. “I get requests for it all the time,” she says. “It's my number-one question.”

And remember: If your poptail fails, there's no reason not to slurp it up as a snow cone or slush instead.

Jill Wendholt Silva is a staff writer for The Kansas City Star.

Gin Zing

2 12 cups chopped cucumber

1 cup elderflower cordial

12 cup gin

Place the cucumber and elderflower cordial in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth.

Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and stir half of the pulp in the sieve back into the cucumber and elderflower juice. Mix in the gin until well combined, then pour into six frozen ice pop molds.

Place the molds in the freezer. Let set for 3 hours, give it a good stir, insert the sticks and allow to freeze solid (for about 4 more hours) or leave overnight.

Makes 6 pops.

Nutrition information per pop: 160 calories, trace total fat (0 saturated), 0 cholesterol, trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace dietary fiber, 2 milligrams sodium

Pomegranate, Vanilla and Vodka

12 vanilla bean

14 cup super-fine sugar

12 cup water

1 12 cups pomegranate juice

4 tablespoons vodka

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and place the pod and seeds in a saucepan with the sugar and 12 cup water. Slowly bring to a boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Let simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Allow to infuse for 30 minutes.

Remove the vanilla pod from the syrup and mix in the pomegranate juice and vodka. Pour into four frozen ice pop molds.

Place the molds in the freezer. Let set for 2 hours, insert the sticks and allow to freeze until completely solid (for about 4 more hours).

Makes 4 pops.

Nutrition information per pop: 135 calories, trace total fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, trace protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 0 dietary fiber, 11 milligrams sodium

English Summer Pop

14 cup superfine sugar

12 cup water

4 tablespoons Pimm's gin-based liquor

1 cup ginger beer (or lemonade)

14 cup sliced strawberries

14 cup sliced apples

18 small mint leaves

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Let simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Add the Pimm's and ginger beer or lemonade. Let cool completely.

Divide the strawberries, apple slices and mint leaves among 6 ice-pop molds. Pour over the Pimm's mixture and insert the sticks.

Place the molds in the freezer for 6 hours, until frozen solid.

Makes 6 pops.

Nutrition information per pop: 76 calories (1 percent from fat), trace total fat (0 saturated), 0 cholesterol, trace protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, trace dietary fiber, 3 milligrams sodium

The Jaliscito

12 cup super-fine sugar

Grated zest of 1 lime

1 cup water

13 cup lime juice (3 to 4 limes)

2 cups chopped watermelon

6 tablespoons tequila

2 tablespoons agave nectar

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Put the sugar and lime zest in a saucepan with the water. Place over low heat. Gently bring the mixture to a simmer, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Let it bubble gently for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and pour in the lime juice.

Place the chopped watermelon in a food processor or blender, add the lime syrup, tequila, Grand Marnier and agave nectar and blitz until well combined.

Pour into a freezer-safe container, cover and place in the freezer for up to 6 hours, giving it a good stir every 2 hours. Remove from the freezer, blitz in a food processor or blender, and pour into glasses. Allow to thaw a little (for about 10 minutes), then serve.

Makes 6 slushes.

Nutrition information per slush: 136 calories, trace total fat (0 saturated), no cholesterol, trace protein, 24 grams carbohydrates, trace dietary fiber, 2 milligrams sodium

Bee's Knees

2 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons whiskey

2 cups ginger beer

Put the honey and whiskey into a bowl and, using a small whisk, mix it until well combined. Gradually whisk in the ginger beer, making sure that everything is thoroughly blended.

Pour into 6 ice-pop molds and place in the freezer. After 2 hours, give each one a good stir. Freeze for another 2 hours, stir and insert the sticks. Return to the freezer and freeze for another 2 hours, until completely solid.

Makes 6 pops.

Nutrition information per pop: 76 calories (none from fat), 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 0 protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, trace dietary fiber, 11 milligrams sodium

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