I dearly love a cocktail. Not just a glass of wine, not just a bottle of beer, and NOT just something made by another and served to me in a pretty glass with a dear price tag. In fact, the bar ritual bothers me these days. Pay 9-15 (15!!!) bones for a bartender to take too long, not care enough to double check how you like it, and not visit upon you the moment you desire another. Not when your glass is empty, but when you desire to relax into another swirled, shaken, mixed concoction of dreamy deliciousness.
I am a fan of the LEGEND of the cocktail. How it truly began, fruit juices and sugars and other flavours added to bathtub gin in Blind Tigers that you HOPED would not kill you. There is an excellent chapter about this very thing in the Poisoners Handbook: The Birth of Forensic Science in the Jazz Age by Deborah Blum. How in Blind Pigs you got straight wood alcohol and prayed to just get drunk rather than blind (a common side effect) or dead (a sadly more common side effect). BUT, in Blind Tigers and Speakeasys, you got it mixed with various things to hide the horrid taste of booze made of wood pulp. You still risked the side effects and the raids by the coppers, but it certainly tasted better.
My current poison is the ubiquitous and most certainly girly lemon drop. When I get them in bars, I always have to specify “no, the martini” which bothers me, because martinis always mean gin in my head. No one should be taking a shot over the age of 23 in my mind. You are too old to just get drunk. You are old enough to enjoy (am I showing my age? Should I tell you to get off my lawn??) the many years old creation that started from true poison far before you were born.
I customize mine with different flavoured vodkas and have had my husband Sacco, a noted non-drinker, exclaim about how he does like THAT lemonade. My current love is cucumber vodka, which adds a most refreshing water note (does that make sense??) and seems to conjure thoughts of outside while you drink it. My local supply store only carries the Skinny Girl brand, which I think is quite fine, so I cannot comment on any other vodka brands for this particular flavour. I am certainly not buying it for the lack of calories. It is BOOZE. It is a treat! It is over ice and has no place in any diet of any sort.
I take a whole lemon and screw around with it for a while. Massage it, toss it around, play catch with Sacco–anything to get those juices flowing as I do not own a juicer. After all that, zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds. The smell will make you all swoony while you are starting the dance of assembling your cocktail. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze all of it into a cocktail shaker. Pulp and all, that stuff is fiber. You can pretend your getting nutritional AND mental value from your pick-me-up. Also, battling scurvy. I do mean all of it too, get in there with your fingers unless you have a fancy juicer/reamer then you can use it instead. Add sugar to taste (I use two teaspoons–I’m a tart girl) and swirl to dissolve in the warm lemon (purpose of the zap!!!). Add ice and two jiggers of your vodka. Shake it like a Polaroid picture. Drain into a glass and enjoy in any way you choose.
I quite literally have made this my “chores” drink. I have it and then swiffer. Do laundry. Hoover. Feel all fifties housewife, but without the Benzedrine addiction or the Dick on the sofa who feels he does not have to lift one little finger to help you with these chores. Send that Asshat to the kitchen.
There are lemons and other shit to clean up in there after all.