I got my start in developing recipes the same place that a lot of food bloggers do — wanting to make something my friends and family would enjoy. Developed as a drink I wanted those close to me to be able to enjoy at our wedding, my Coconut Key Lime Pie Martini began life this way.
My wife and I have a personal circle of loved ones that are very much an “eat, drink, and be merry” crowd. Many of our memories of those people and places are interwoven with the tastes and smells of those good times.
Real life often makes people orbit in and out of your life as your personal circumstances change. Our wedding offered the opportunity to host many of those people in our new hometown to reconnect, relive some of those wonderful memories, and create new ones. The best experiences are built on the foundation of old ones.
We had an idea to create not just one signature cocktail, but a whole menu of them. The people, places, and experiences that brought so much joy to our lives were distilled down into our menu of “greatest hits”. There were homages to beloved family figures and references to past after-work haunts. Inside jokes about shenanigans from our earlier years elicited smirks from our longtime friends.
Those drinks served as a catalyst for the telling and retelling of old stories, reanimated by the new setting and company. On their first pass through the line at the bar, our guests naturally gravitated to the cocktail whose story and place they remembered the best. After a few sips, the other guests’ cocktail selections began to reveal themselves to them as each a story to be told as well.
Those cocktails each represented a piece of our jigsaw life in some singular way. Curiosity about the stories represented by each drink led to new connections being made, and stories told. It was wonderful to see that bar menu transmute those pieces drawn from snapshots of our life into something new and memorable.
The Coconut Key Lime Pie Martini started as originally just a Key Lime Pie Martini. I created it as a rendition of a drink my wife and her co-workers periodically enjoyed after work at a restaurant called Elsa’s while she was completing her veterinary residency at a clinic in Milwaukee. The version on our menu had a wonderful smoothie-like consistency from the heavy cream. Lightly sweetened by agave syrup and rimmed in graham cracker crumbs, it was literally pie in a glass.
I am normally resistant to making low carb versions of recipes by just simply exchanging carb-laden ingredients for their low carb equivalents. Converting a recipe with these sorts of one-for-one exchanges will often turn it into something that resembles the original in name only. I try to think about the qualities that made the original unique. At that point it is easier to recapture its essence from that point forward under the new low carb constraints. It’s a more organic, evolutionary approach and produces a better end product.
Fortunately, this was one of the cases where the one-for-one exchange method actually worked well. Heavy cream became high quality coconut milk. The graham cracker crumbs were instead made from Carolyn Ketchum’s low carb Homemade Graham Crackers recipe on All Day I Dream About Food. I swapped agave syrup for an equivalent amount of Swerve sweetener. No other changes were necessary.
Now the drink that was a cornerstone of our wedding experience is reintroducing itself to a new time and place. It’s incarnation as the Coconut Key Lime Pie Martini is lighter and fresher — and maybe smarter? It is a cocktail that fits its time and place better than its predecessor. That change has convinced me it will be made and remade, keeping that one perfect day with our friends alive.