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When I picture my perfect Memorial Day — meaning the Monday proper, after most of us have had our share of barbecue beers and whatnot — what I’d really like to do on that day is sit on a porch, in a nice, big, comfy chair (rocking, or Adirondack — I’m not picky) and spend the afternoon reading a good book and sipping on something wonderful.
The key part of that scenario is the porch. I love porches. Back decks are for frat boys; porches are for ladies. Patios are for Ice Storm-era outdoor key parties; porches are for timeless, halcyon-hazy relaxation and reflection. Stoops are for selling your old shit; porches are, gloriously, for doing as little shit as possible.
I’d made some iced tea earlier this week. I’d made it for Sean’s Uncle Kit, who had dinner at our place while he was in town for work and who doesn’t drink. I made an iced white tea infused with lemon and spiked with ginger water. (Ginger water = what’s left over when you boil fresh ginger to make candied ginger. I made a lot of candied ginger in the fall and saved the water in Popsicle molds.) It was so good that I couldn’t wait for my teetotaler to leave so I could use it to whip up a cocktail.
It’s been un longtemps and a day since I’ve posted, which means lots to catch up on even if you’re one of my kindly regular readers — let alone a newbie gamely bouncing on the blogwagon thanks to my recent Saveur Best Cocktail Blog nom (#believethatscalledahumblebrag #hinewbies).
Everything you need to know about my truancy, as well as my all-telling *general*outlook*on*life*, you can glean from the following statement: I feel acutely guilty that, thanks to uterus-subletting fetus, I’m not inclined to drink for you guys as much as I once did. Isn’t it awful how I’m letting y’all down, spending my current pregnancy largely away from alcohol? Without a coupe in her claw, who is this Blogtender personbot?
Thanksgiving-narrative guest post by Leslie Deak, who previously chronicled for us her experiences of drinking ice creaminess while having pizza stolen by an NBA player.
The following is a story of the wrong cocktail in the wrong place at a really, really wrong time. But it all works out in the end. So, three wrongs make a right, I guess.
My husband’s family has a tradition of gathering together for Thanksgiving, and last year was no exception. We found ourselves ensconced in one of the well-appointed residences at Jekyll Island Club in Georgia. After a lovely Thanksgiving morning bike ride, a freak accident involving another member of the family resulted in an ER visit, thus leaving me and my sister-in-law to our own devices for most of the day. (Don’t worry, everyone is okay.) With unplanned downtime, I considered my options. Hey, look — the club has a bar!
I perched myself in one of the rockers on the porch of the old hotel, overlooking the marshes at a distance. I waited until a respectable noon (well, it was mostly noon!) before moseying up to the bar. MISTAKE.
The bar was mobbed with well-heeled southerners meeting their families for The Big Feast. The tiny U-shaped bar was manned by one efficient, polite, overworked bartender with a line three people deep around the perimeter. As I approached the bar, I overheard one patron inquiring as to how the bartender made a Pimm’s Cup. “Pimm’s, ginger ale, and a twist of lime,” was the response. Intrigued, i asked what Pimm’s tasted like. The bartender, patron, and her companion all looked at me with bemused expressions. “It’s just… Pimm’s,” said the bartender. Suddenly, I was quite self-conscious of my three heads, but proceeded nonetheless.
In my quest for Total World Cocktail Domination, last week I made myself a little spreadsheet of upcoming recipe contests, those expressly for cocktails as well as others where my commendable potations will be up against some lame-ass summer salads or whatever.
First at bat: a grapefruit-and-ginger recipe contest courtesy of a skin-treats company. Winners get paid in grapefruit and ginger-scented bath-product gift baskets!… Wait, I’ve never mentioned what a slut I am for a nice, relaxing bubble bath? Well, there you go.
Starting from scratch, here’s how I manifested The Bathtub Gin(ger). I am writing this all down for you because one day The Museum of the American Cocktail will ask that my brain be donated to their archives, but that won’t be possible because I never plan on dying. So you guys can pass this along to them and I bet they’d even give you money for it.
The origin story of my house cocktail begins with a glass of amaro, the bitter Italian liquor flavored with a secret mixture of herbs, roots, dried citrus peel and who-knows-what. After a meal at Frankies Sputino, a terrific Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, a friend offered me a taste as they drink it in Italy: straight-up, after a meal, as a digestif. I wasn’t a fan. Too syrupy, too bitter, too sweet. But, I thought at the time, this would go great with some seltzer and a splash of citrus.
So I tried that combo — and loved it. The seltzer cut through the viscous amaro and some lemon (or a combination of lemon and orange) brightened its dark flavors. It was refreshing, tasty and (to use a word I try to avoid when writing about booze) addictive. I tried a few amari and settled on Averna, a Sicilian brand that is particularly herbal and dark. I drank that combo all through that summer.
Ah, Fridays at five. If ever a quittin’ time cried out for a cocktail of its very own, you are said time. Regrettably, once another endless week wends its way to you, rarely am I of sober-enough mind to do you justice.
Yours should be the crowning achievement of my five days’ labor — I, Charlotte! My magnum opus, thee! Alas, by the time your sweet siren of surrender sounds… yeah, see, I haven’t even got enough of the witty wordplay left in me to finish my lede, let alone actually, like, name you.
So here’s how we’ll roll on Fridays. I’ll offer up one of my cocktail creations as per yoozh, but as far as what to call it — as Otis once sang, I’m depending on you, dear blog followers. (Some of you aren’t my relatives, right?) In other words, I’d like you to name that drink. Title that tipple! Christen that cocktail! Whatever the opposite of Alcohols Anonymous would be! (Again, bad wordplay.)
Bourbon, paterfamilias of the Martelorre’s alchemy, became a friend to me in 2005 — not coincidentally the year I began bartending. Compared to all the foolish mixed drinks I’d ordered in my youth, bourbon tasted like maturity’s reward. Adult fun, I used to call it. It spoke to parts of me I hadn’t yet gotten to know — a spirit that seemed to be a part of mine.