When most people think of golf drinks, they think of light beers. Maybe a flask of whiskey, if one needs extra fortification from the weather or the water hazards. But from the tee box to the post-round 19th hole, golf provides many opportunities to enjoy a good cocktail. And, over the years, the preferred cocktail at golf clubs around the country has become the Transfusion, a refreshing drink made with vodka, ginger ale and grape juice.
The cocktail’s origin is unknown, but it’s served on both coasts and even at Augusta National. Supposedly, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a fan, consuming Transfusions at his preferred country club in Palm Desert, California after his presidency. And hey, if it’s good enough to lubricate the general’s golf swing, it’s probably good enough for anyone.
The Transfusion is light and quaffable. The vodka provides the booze, while the ginger ale adds a friendly bite, lengthening the drink with effervescence. The grape juice lends sweetness, a hint of fruit and some much-needed electrolytes. The cocktail is easy to make, easy to drink and can be ordered after your round or batched up in a thermos and stowed in your golf cart.
This twist by New York bartender Bryan Schneider skips the ginger ale and calls for homemade ginger syrup and club soda. It also employs ice cubes made from Concord grape juice that slowly infuse the drink with autumnal flavor as they melt. So, this version might not be easy to obtain at your local golf course, but you don’t need golf to enjoy a good Transfusion.
To make this drink, Schneider fills an ice cube tray with Concord grape juice and places it in the freezer until the cubes are frozen solid. Do that ahead, so the ice is ready to go once you shake up the remaining ingredients. Enlist this cocktail in the morning if you need a transfusion of curative liquids to restore your faculties after a long night. Or make a batch before your next golf experience, whether you’re playing 18 holes or just watching a tournament on TV.
- Concord grape juice ice cubes*
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1/2 ounce ginger syrup
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 ounces club soda
- Garnish: concord grapes
- Garnish: crystallized ginger
Add the vodka, ginger syrup and lime juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a rocks glass over Concord grape juice ice cubes.
Top with the club soda.
Garnish with Concord grapes and a piece of crystallized ginger.
*Concord grape juice ice cubes: Ahead of time, fill an ice cube tray with Concord grape juice and place in the freezer for several hours until frozen.