My new stove and I are in the first throes of dating and you know how that goes. It’s all lust and excitement, and I am introducing him to my friends –- like Butter Chicken and Puglia Lady Rethought for America and Salmon Pasta. When things calm down and we get to know each other better, I'll be able to move on to new recipes, and this blog will return to its regularly scheduled program of weeknight cooking tips.
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In the meantime, in lieu of adventurous cooking, I am having a cocktail. In particular: Gin Rickey (is it a sin to drink gin before noon?). This drink provides the perfect end to the summer, like a refreshing bit of surf on your legs, or better yet, the announcement from your summer share mates that they are packing up early and have left you a pile of clean towels and the back porch from which to watch the sunset all to yourself.
As is often the case, Jenny has made some adjustments to cover for her own failings. The first is the actual alcohol used; obviously this recipe calls for gin, and as I do not have much of a hard liquor supply, I had full intentions of procuring some over the weekend.
Sunday rolled around, and I mulled going to Trader Joe’s to pick up some gin, until I learned that A) in D.C. grocery stores cannot sell hard stuff (though wine and beer is fine) and that B) it is one of the states (“states”) that forbids liquor stores to open on Sunday.
Um, comment say wa? (They also do not allow farmers to sell fresh meat at the markets, though apparently raw fish makes the cut. In the official parlance of jurisprudence, these types of laws or ordinances are known as hooey, or that which makes no freaking sense to anyone but he/she who wrote it.)
But did I run toward the Jet Blue terminal and look for the next flight back home to Los Angeles? I did not. I used vodka. And it tasted great.
Further, Giulia Melucci, one of my favorite weeknight recipe scribes, called for agave nectar, proclaiming it a “godsend to cocktail-making because it's less bother than simple syrup and it gives you the sense that you are doing something healthy; what with its low glycemic index.”
Well, nothing is a god send to me if I can’t find it in visits to three stores, and anyone who drinks cocktails midday while their 7-year-old rocks out to Kei$ha clearly has other things to worry about concerning her lifestyle and general comportment than the glycemic index. So simple syrup it was for me –- honestly it only takes a minute to make.
Our mixologist says you can use mint or basil –- my mint was looking a little tired and MrsWheelbarrow just brought me my own basil plant and so before I kill it with ineptitude I thought I should pluck a few leaves, rub them between my fingers and drop them into the drink. Sublime. Any time of day.
Pour all liquid ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into two glasses filled with ice. Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint or basil and a slice of lime.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).