In the wake of the craft cocktail movement, could poptails be far behind?Poptails (Octopus, $12.99), written by London-based food stylist Laura Fyfe, is the clever name for tipsy adult ice pops infused with a jigger of booze.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 indeed styled that way. A quick Google search revealed all kinds of poptails out there — check out EndlessSimmer 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.And remember: If your poptail fails, there’s no reason not to slurp it up as a snow cone or slush instead.
Makes 6 pops
• 2 1/2 cups chopped cucumber
• 1 cup elderflower cordial
• 1/2 cup gin
1. Place cucumber and elderflower cordial in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth.
2. Pass 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 gin until well combined, then pour into six ice pop molds.
3. Place the molds in the freezer. Let set for 3 hours, give it a good stir, insert sticks and allow to freeze solid (about 4 more hours) or leave overnight.
Nutrition information per pop: 160 calories, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace protein, 2 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 10 percent of calories from fat.
Pomegranate, vanilla and vodka
Makes 4 pops
• Half a vanilla bean
• 1/4 cup superfine sugar
• 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
• 4 tablespoons vodka
1. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and place pod and seeds in a saucepan with sugar and 1/2 cup water. Slowly bring to a boil, allowing sugar to dissolve. Let simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
2. Remove vanilla pod from syrup and mix in pomegranate juice and vodka. Pour into four ice pop molds.
3. Place molds in the freezer. Let set for 2 hours, insert wooden sticks and allow to freeze until completely solid (about 4 more hours).
Nutrition information per pop: 135 calories, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 26 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 11 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber, 1 percent of calories from fat.
English summer cup
Makes 6 pops
• 1/4 cup superfine sugar
• 4 tablespoons Pimm’s gin-based liquor
• 1 cup ginger beer (or lemonade)
• 1/4 cup sliced strawberries
• 1/4 cup sliced apples
• 18 small mint leaves
1. Place sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, allowing sugar to dissolve. Let simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Add Pimm’s and ginger beer or lemonade. Let cool completely.
2. Divide strawberries, apple slices and mint leaves among six ice pop molds. Pour over the Pimm’s mixture and insert wooden sticks.
3. Place molds in freezer for 6 hours, until frozen solid.
Nutrition information per pop: 76 calories, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 14 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 3 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 1 percent of calories from fat.
Makes 6 pops
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 4 tablespoons whiskey
• 2 cups ginger beer
1. Put honey and whiskey in a bowl and, using a small whisk, mix together until well combined. Gradually whisk in ginger beer, making sure everything is thoroughly blended.
2. Pour into six ice pop molds and place in freezer. After 2 hours, give each a good stir. Freeze for another 2 hours, stir and insert sticks. Return to freezer for another 2 hours, until completely solid.
Nutrition information per pop: 76 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, 15 grams carbohydrates, no protein, 11 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.
Makes 6 slushes
• 1/2 cup superfine sugar
• Grated zest of 1 lime
• 1/3 cup lime juice (3 to 4 limes)
• 2 cups chopped watermelon
• 6 tablespoons tequila
• 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
• 2 tablespoons agave nectar
1. Put sugar and lime zest in a saucepan with 1 cup water. Place over low heat. Gently bring to a simmer, allowing sugar to dissolve. Let bubble gently for 5 minutes, remove from heat and pour in lime juice.
2. Place chopped watermelon in a food processor or blender; add lime syrup, tequila, Grand Marnier and agave nectar. Blitz until well combined.
3. 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 freezer, blitz in a food processor or blender, and pour into glasses. Allow to thaw a little (approximately 10 minutes), then serve.
Nutrition information per slush: 136 calories, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 24 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 2 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 2 percent of calories from fat.