My child is already dreaming of deep Summer treats like Ratatouille (Thomas Keller’s, of course – thank you Pixar) and the frozen Corn on the Cob we socked away last year is no longer exciting her. She’s ready to grill things and has also decided she wants to make meat jerky this year. I love this kid. The Lemonade pitcher is out already, and homemade popsicles are being created.
Meanwhile, Josh is also having charcuterie dreams. Not only does he like the idea of smoking and curing meats and other delicious treats, but I think lazy picnic dinners after morning/afternoons working hard on the homestead appeals to him. Some fresh-made soft Ricotta with fragrant strips of basil, yesterday’s Sourdough Baguette, an array of rainbow sliced Heirloom Tomatoes with a little Olive Oil and Truffle Salt, Pickles (of course, maybe something from the Secret Pickle Club like Dilly Beans or Fiddleheads), and a lovely Smoked Sausage of some sort…accompanied by a lovely Summer (m)cocktail or Lavender Lemonade.
And that is what we’ve come to talk about today. Mocktails/Cocktails. I feel like I missed out on a lovely pandemic ritual of Zoom cocktail hour…(one I’m going to start right now!!) where people could just show up and meet, bring your favorite beverage and just hang out. Really, how did I not think of this? And I know, some folks are burnt out on internet communications but some of us rely on them. Some of us don’t see other adults very often (before, during, and/or likely after the pandemic) and this could be a great way to relax and get to know folks from afar. I will send out a notification when this picks up – I’m sure it’s going to be a hit! Tonight is the trial run with just one far-flung friend, I’ll let you know how it goes.
What shall I drink? I have to say that I read a disconcerting article the other day about the abuses of alcohol over the pandemic (Winter, mostly) here in Maine which echoes national numbers (and likely international as all people need an escape or some relaxation, or just a treat at this time). We spent much of our Winter realizing that we needed to clean out in general (our bodies, our house, our crazy) and actually drank less. Not that we drink a lot, but we are social drinkers, for sure – and enjoy adult privileges responsibly (mostly). We found an online liquor club that delivered and so spent some time boosting our cabinet of alcoholic curiosities – so many fun accoutrements. I’m no mixologist but I enjoy a fancy drink that’s not too fussy.
When the weather shifts, I shift, too – Winter calls to me with Brandy and single knuckles of Scotch, sometimes a matching chill of a Juniper Gin & Tonic, or warming up with an Apple-y Hot Toddy (cider & whiskey, cinnamon and clove…mmmm). Josh is called by various Scotch’s, American Whiskey’s, and deep flavored beers in the Winter. But by the time June rolls around I’m wishing for a Provencal Rose by the poolside (though I have no pool, alright – for the depths of the dappled orchard), and Josh moves to clear beers (he’s still hating the IPA movement; it’s not that he doesn’t like IPA’s, he just likes other things, too – but the market is still saturated with high alcohol complicated IPA’s). For this Spring, I built up an assortment of Elderflower and Bergamot Liqueur, Icelandic Vodka (my medical practitioner recommends Vodka as a low calorie/no sugar option, especially for women’s changing bodies!), and though I don’t like the additives of most flavors that companies use I found a couple that were naturally flavored like a Grapefruit Gin and the Wild Roots distillery out of PacNW.
My standards are pretty succinct. I’m a lowbrow kind of gal. We have a Soda Stream. A typical cocktail for me is a medium glass (yes, I have a lovely assortment of vintage glasses), 2 ice cubes, a shot of alcohol (likely vodka or gin), and bubbly water. Sometimes a spoonful of liqueur as a fancy floater, or a squeeze of lime, and a sprig of herb or edible flower (right now all of my drinks have Forsythia blossoms in them, in another week or two it will be Violets, and then there is Lilac and Honeysuckle…). My child won’t even let me get out of the kitchen without a flower or sprig of herb in my drink (she makes all her mocktails with a sprig or flower, too – so fancy!). Sometimes Duende makes her delicious Lemonade (made with Organic Lemon juice and Maple Syrup or Honey) and I add a little of that, too.
I do make flower simple syrups, too (also for sale) – which are great for mocktails and cocktails alike. Lavender, Pine, and all the other flowers mentioned. I have fantasies of making my own bitters (and learning how to use them), and liqueurs. I recently got Pascal Baudar’s Wildcrafted Fermentation book which has some libations and then he has another Brewer’s book I must look into. Ashley English has some great recipes, too (as the whole Taproot magazine family does and shares). I do make my own flower wines (Dandelion, Red Clover, Rosehip all have been delicious, the last being a really deep flavor to use as a liqueur and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Goldenrod; very green – we learn if we’re lucky). And Josh makes Hard Cider (though Joe’s is better, in Josh’s defense Joe is adept at beer-making) and is starting to make some beer. Our lovely friend Justin and Dan make delicious mead (Dan makes great beer with Joe, too) which they are gracious enough to share (thank you!!).
So, apparently if you come by – we are having fantasies of picnics and fancy drinks. Bring on the warm weather!!!