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Preakness Treats

Celebrate with a Maryland original, the Black Eyed Susan

The 138th Preakness race runs this Saturday, May 18, at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore. Maybe you have tickets and are watching the race from the infield where you can enjoy the party crowd and headliner Pitbull. The Kegasus is no longer invited to this party. Maybe you’ll be watching the race from the comfort of your living room or attending a party with friends.
    However and wherever you choose to celebrate, Finlandia Vodka, the official vodka of the Preakness, suggests you enjoy the signature drink of the day: the Black-Eyed Susan. Named for our state flower, this herbaceous cocktail — with hints of lemongrass, sage and elderflower blossoms — should give the Kentucky Derby’s mint julep a run for the money.

Black Eyed Susan

1.5 oz. Finlandia Vodka
.5 oz. St. Germain Liqueur
1 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz. raspberry juice or strawberry juice
.5 oz. simple syrup
Half a stalk of lemongrass (reserve one layer of stalk for garnish)
Sage leaf

    In a shaker, muddle 1⁄2 stalk of lemongrass. Add vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice, raspberry juice, simple syrup and fill 3⁄4 with ice. Shake until frothy, double strain over fresh ice into a highball glass, and garnish with lemongrass stalk and sage leaf.

    Pair this cocktail with a spicy salsa for balance of flavors or try these kabobs, as the saltiness of the ham will counter with the sweetness of the cocktail and the mushrooms pair well with the sage.

Serrano Ham and Portabella Skewers

24 baby portabella mushrooms, cut in half
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
.5 cup brandy or sherry
Fresh-ground black pepper
12 thin slices Serrano ham or prosciutto
24 short skewers

    In a sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer and let cook without stirring for 5 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high, remove the pan from the heat and add this absorbed, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Skewer one mushroom half, then a slice of ham and, finally, another mushroom half. Continue with remaining mushrooms and ham slices. Serve immediately.

    Serves 6-8.