A graham cracker crumb rim is a must for any key lime pie martini. Photo by Amy Gwinn-Becker

To the delight of mathematicians, March 14 has become known as Pi Day in honor of the mathematical constant abbreviated as 3.14. To the delight of dessert lovers, it is often celebrated by eating pie. To the delight of cocktail enthusiasts, it’s not hard to make a martini taste like pretty much any liquid pie, and around Pi Day felt like the right time to share some of those cocktail recipes.

I first became aware of the cocktail version of pie when I reviewed the now-gone (sniff) wine bar Conundrum in Freeport. Despite being a wine bar, it had a great cocktail menu, and I was unable to resist trying the key lime pie martini. It was so good that I devoted an entire paragraph to it.

My second encounter with pie-flavored cocktails came last summer when a friend gifted me some homemade rhubarb syrup and the ingredients for strawberry shortcake. I mixed equal parts rhubarb syrup, liquid from the macerated strawberries and vanilla vodka, shook it over ice, and strained it into a martini glass. Strawberry rhubarb pie in a glass. If you’d like to make it yourself, the strawberry part is easy – just sprinkle a few tablespoons of sugar on some strawberries and let them sit until they become soft and start forming a liquid which you can then use for the cocktail. (The macerated berries are then great on pancakes, etc.) The rhubarb syrup is also pretty straightforward: Cook 2 pounds of chopped rhubarb in 4 cups of water (bring it to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes) until it is mushy and has lost most of its color. Discard the rhubarb and add 1.75 cups of sugar to the remaining bright pink/red water. Stir over heat until completely dissolved, usually about five minutes. Strain and store in the fridge.

Make a banana cream pie cocktail with local tequila crema Vespertino. Photo by Angie Bryan

My third pie-flavored cocktail encounter came when I was writing about Vespertino tequila crema earlier this year. One of the recipes on Vespertino’s website was for banana cream pie: equal parts Vespertino, crème de banana (banana liqueur) and butterscotch schnapps. An instant winner.

Consequently, when a friend requested that I devote a column to pie-flavored cocktails, I knew it had to happen.

Apple juice and apple cider both work in apple pie cocktails. Photo by Angie Bryan

There are many recipes for apple pie cocktails using apple cider, which would provide the most authentic taste, but I wasn’t going to let the fact that it’s not cider season stop me from coming up with a recipe using apple juice to tide us over until the fall. One recipe suggested mixing an entire teaspoon of ground cinnamon into the cocktail. Do not try that at home. I’m still gagging. Instead, rim your cocktail glass with a cinnamon sugar mixture – it provides the aromatic and taste sensation needed to elevate the contents of the drink to pie status.  The magic ratio is one part vodka, one part vanilla liqueur (I used a Spanish one, Licor 43), and one and a half parts apple juice.

I was most excited, however, about replicating the magic of that key lime pie martini. First, I rimmed the glass with crushed up graham cracker crumbs (also good if you want to make a S’more-tini). The cocktail itself is 0.5 ounce lime cordial (I used Rose’s, widely available in liquor stores as well as grocery stores), 0.5 ounce orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec but Cointreau or Grand Marnier would also work), 1 ounce pineapple juice, and 1.5 ounces vanilla vodka. In a fitting nod to the rim of this cocktail, the recipe comes from Colleen Graham at The Spruce Eats, and it did not disappoint anyone other than my trainer, who would probably prefer that I not make cocktails so delicious that I immediately make a second serving.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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