I am no mixologist, but I do like to stir up a nice cocktail from time to time. Cocktails are especially necessary during times of bereavement, as I was reminded last month when I went to Memphis to be with longtime friends to remember Ray. I began thinking about restorative cocktails this week as I read the following passage from Gayden Metalfe and Charlotte Hays’s Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral (2005):
“The funeral is always a time of stress, and everybody realizes that immediately afterward you need two things: friends and alcohol. It would be frowned upon if you went to a black-tie ball or were spotted dancing your feet off at the Four Oaks Supper Club. But a friend is certainly entitled to entertain you for a restorative cocktail. Some families return from the funeral and begin the restorative cocktail party then, finishing off the Ritz-cracker encrusted pineapple casserole on the spot. Others prefer their restorative cocktail a bit later, at a close friend’s house.
“One of the other reasons for the restorative cocktail is that out-of-town guests will want to see people before they go home again. Whether as immediate relief after the funeral or solace in the following days or weeks, the restorative cocktail heralds the return to normal life. You may make use of all the funeral leftovers, but you also begin to return to normal foods. Hello pickled shrimp, goodbye pineapple casserole. Getting slightly pickled yourself is not frowned upon. It is also a good time to reminisce about the person who has died and to celebrate life (213).”
I’ve written about Sweet Tea Vodka before, and it proved to be the perfect Southern Summertime Restorative Cocktail. Of course there are others, and one that I have been experimenting with lately is Grapefruit infused vodka. So far I’ve only managed to make a nice vodka tonic with it, and it is delicious. The jury is still out on the garnish — for convenience’s sake (meaning, I had them) I’ve tried lime, maraschino cherries, and a fat strawberry. Each was good in its own way, but none of them packed the perfect punch. J recommends grapefruit zest, which I’m sure would look lovely.
Last year I encountered several new drinks of which I became fond. During a weekend in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware last August I first encountered the Buddha Blue at Planet X Cafe. It’s a great little restaurant and bar with a beautiful porch on Wilmington Ave. They may still be serving the Buddha Blue, although it doesn’t show up on their online cocktail menu. It was a delicious concoction that called for:
3 Olive Grape Vodka
Organic Blueberry and Pomegranate
(I also think there was some Triple Sec in there)
I gathered up all the ingredients last summer and tried to recreate it multiple times; it never turned out to be quite as delicious as the original, but the attempts were fun.
Last year’s U.S. Open signature cocktail was the Honey Deuce, and it was delicious. I collected several commemorative plastic highball glasses while supporting my friends at Flushing Meadows and Grey Goose. The Honey Deuce calls for (there are more details if you click the link):
Grey Goose vodka
Splash of Chambord
Garnish with frozen honeydew melon balls
We spent last Thanksgiving with our friends at their fabulous new inn in Woodstock, VT. I was charged with bringing booze, so I scavenged the internets looking for inspiration for our Signature Thanksgiving Cocktails. After some trial and error, I settled on these, and they were both big hits.
1-1/2 part Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey
1/2 part Berentzen ApfelKorn Schnapps
1-1/2 part Canada Dry Ginger Ale
Crystallized Ginger Garnish
I was generous with the Jack Daniels and light on the Schnapps, which gave it the most wonderful hint of apple. The crystallized ginger garnish in the picture (click the link above) is prettier than what I used, but the little ginger cubes that you can buy at Whole Foods worked well skewered on a bamboo pick (you can actually see them in the background if you click the picture below).
The second Thanksgiving cocktail was a Vanilla Cape Cod.
In a tumbler (or rocks glass) over ice, mix: 1 part vanilla vodka to two parts cranberry juice [cocktail], twist of lime, garnish with fresh cranberries. For a refreshing kick, add a splash of club soda.
Last week at POV J ordered a drink that called for cinnamon absolut, sweet vermouth, and lemon ginger beer — I thought it would have been perfect garnished with little ginger cubes, and having taken a sip I can also say that the cinnamon vodka seemed like something I’d probably enjoy more during the winter — in fact, I can already envision it playing an important role in this year’s Signature Holiday Restorative Cocktail. (Do drop by!)
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall are really the best seasons for exploring new and exciting cocktails — or even just enjoying your favorites. Speaking of, what are your favorites? While you’re thinking about it, enjoy these pictures of other restorative cocktails I’ve enjoyed.
At the Hotel Palomar in Philadelphia:
A Bourbon tea at the Occidental in DC:
At Bar Dupont in Dupont Circle: