Over the summer I made a lot of flavored syrups. I got carried away, actually, and made not only basil, for Basil Gimlets, but also mint, rose and nutmeg geranium. The Basil Gimlet recipe I pulled from Sunset mag, and it gave me the idea that you can mix these syrups with rum, gin or vodka and come up with something potable.
So the syrups are taking up space in the fridge, and I’m a little unsure as a mixologist, especially after my experience with Limoncello. This is an infusion of lemons macerated in syrup, then mixed with vodka to become a liqueur. Sadly, I secretly harbored visions of myself reinventing a concoction that would rival Chartreuse, so when I got my husband to taste the results of a month’s soaking, it was a bit of a letdown.
He tasted it, squinted off into the distance, wrinkling his nose, thinking. Suddenly his face lit up.
“Pine Sol!” he cried happily. “I kind of like it!”
Well, the Limoncello was consigned to the cellar. Occasionally I thought about dousing some sort of pound cake with it, but mostly it sat there sapping my confidence and sense of adventure.
Somehow I scraped together the energy to concoct a drink involving ginger syrup, sweetened limejuice and rum. Not too bad at all. In fact, a small triumph, because my husband likes, even welcomes it when it’s time to sit around the fire before dinner.
These are all girlie drinks, I’ll admit it. Very sweet going down, then suddenly you are Relaxed. Way back in my college days, I discovered Brass Monkeys, a lethally sweet bottled version of a whiskey sour, so we’re still in the same theme park, here, only 35 years later.
Normally I don’t drink much, since alcohol opens the carb floodgates like nothing else. You are tootling along, someone offers you a beer, and suddenly a plate of nachos and a piece of cheesecake sound like very good ideas. Which in reality, they are not, at least for me. Generally it’s seltzer water and carrot sticks, she said defensively.
What does all this have to do with Wholesome Country Living, you ask? Is this DIY run amok? A sad casualty of short days, long nights and no nearby bowling alley? Am I one short step away from bathtub gin?
I admit to a huge admiration of self-sufficiency. My new friend and neighbor, Lisa, is not only a wonderful spinner, dyer and knitter, she makes cheddar and Camembert cheeses, for goodness sake. If you could make your own manna, wouldn’t you give it a try?
There is the undeniable satisfaction of being able to hand someone something you have made (that presumably they won’t pour down the toilet or immediately bury) that is hard to top. There is also the satisfaction of reminding myself that we do not always need to be hog tied to commercialism for our entertainment and gifts. Besides, the unpredictability of it all adds a certain frisson to things.
Which brings us to Colette. The rose syrup was taking up space in the fridge. I had had a modest success with making rose ice cream over the summer. I really like sweetened limejuice. All right, so why not one part rose syrup, one part limejuice, and two parts vodka over ice? I tried it. My brilliant husband got that look in his eye and dubbed it Colette’s Bathwater.
A first draft, I’ll admit. But with a name like that, it’s worth some additional R&D.