Being self-employed, and usually running as fast as we can (probably you too), it can get a bit stressful around here some days. Back in the summer, when I was especially glad to see Fridays come, I started a weekly tradition here at the house of Cocktail Fridays. Just a silly little idea really, but once I got the bar cart all set up, I became a little obsessed with discovering good cocktails and learning how to mix drinks. For the most part, Peter is a non-drinker, so I knew it would be met with a little skepticism. Surprisingly though, a few weeks of Friday night cocktails behind us, and, surprisingly, Peter was taking over the planning of Friday's new drink.
Although I joked to friends that my initial goal was to get Peter to drink more, its really not about that. I love traditions, rituals, and routines in life. This is just a new ritual to end the week. Slowing down, sampling a new drink together, talking about the day, the act of letting go of the week (as much as we can, since work almost always continues over the weekend). Sipping a cocktail is very relaxing, and quite literally does warm up the insides. Put all of this in a nice glass that requires a little intention to hold, and look at yourself. You've just slowed down. Suddenly dinner prep more intentional and, dare I say, even pleasant.
To aid in all this newfound interest in the science of mixing a good drink, my sister-in-law Jen pointed me to what has now become one my favorite apps, Mixology (I use the free version). This app is wonderful, it allows you to plug in what you have on hand (not only the alcohol, but mixers, colas, juices, etc) and it spits back out selection of drink ideas and recipes. So easy for a novice like me. We do splurge on nice quality liquor because with one of these drinks a week, we figure go big on quality since we're not overindulging. Plus, we are suckers for good packaging and pretty, sparkly bottles. That corner of the dining room has lit up from its former dowdy days.
Here's a short list of the drinks we've tried and liked.
Pimms' Cup- I pulled this basic recipe from Molly, but an even simpler version, with the traditional cucumber spear.
Gin and Tonic- Good gin (I like Bombay Sapphire, and not only because of its pretty bottle) is essential. Chill everything before you mix it all together and its perfect for a hot summer evening. This one has become my go-to on evenings I have no imagination left.
Sapphire French Martini Cocktail- 1 part Bombay Sapphire, 1 1/2 parts pineapple juice, with Chambord drizzled in just before serving. I chilled everything (including the martini glasses) before mixing and serving. This one is like dessert. Chambord is my all-time favorite liqueur, Peter and I lugged a bottle of it all over England on our honeymoon, from hotel to hotel, and had a toast and a nightcap every night.
Peach Margaritas- This was a last minute Everyday Food recipe. Filling, almost smoothie-like.
We've also tried Mojitos, basic Margaritas, and a couple others that were not memorable.
We also trying different types of sake. I dislike every hot sake I'd ever tried, but I recently tried chilled sake and it completely changed my mind. Much like a chilled white wine and, in my opinion, much smoother than sake served warm. Last week we tried one "layered with essence of green apples and fresh kiwi". It was delicious.
As the weather gets cooler, I look forward to the whole category of hot toddy's and warm drinks. And in my imagination, any drink mixed with coffee sounds good to me.
I can't understate how much nicer a well-made drink is served in a nice glass. It just feels like a treat to hold as well as sip. I purchased some basic, reasonably martini glasses at Crate and Barrel (part of the "Viv" collection).
I'd love to hear your favorites, we need more ideas.