My kids were out on Mid-Winter Break and just returned to school on Tuesday. Which is the only day they’ve been at school this week because of “snow.” This seems to happen quite often, where normal school breaks are extended because of wimpy calls by the local school districts in the Seattle area. I used to think it was Mother Nature being cruel. Then I realized that she can’t avoid times around school breaks because there are so darn many of them — Winter Break, Mid-Winter Break, Spring Break (yes, we have all three), teacher in-service days, regular holidays. When are the kids in school? And when can I get all my blog housekeeping done so that I can return to mixing, tasting and blogging? I’m working on it. Snow, yeesh.
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This last Christmas my husband gave me a cocktail book. I had been growing more interested in the craft cocktails showcased in Seattle-area restaurants and he thought I’d like to dabble with making them at home. I’m pretty sure he was not expecting to unleash the cocktail frenzy that ensued.
Our liquor cabinet to that point was pretty uneven – a good rum and limoncello from trips, a random quarter bottle of single-malt Scotch, Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort (I can’t explain that one), a couple good vodkas and some really marginal tequila and rum. I marked lots of promising recipes in my new book and made a long list of necessary spirits, fruits and herbs I would need. I returned from the liquor and grocery stores on New Year’s Eve with maybe half the items on my list…then discovered that I was missing a key ingredient in nearly every drink. Also, I had unwittingly duplicated a few of the alcohol choices – how was I supposed to know how similar Aperol and Campari are? Or that Pernod was made as a (not as satisfying) substitute for absinthe? Yet I now had a bottle of each and felt too guilty to go buy more booze.
But I have since learned. Sometimes by taste, sometimes research, sometimes by reading the cocktail blogs written by real experts. I am weirdly motivated to crack the cocktail code. I say weirdly because, as my family can attest, the cooking code continues to elude me. But there are lots of people who like cocktails but just want to make them without so much trouble. Or they get overwhelmed by the specialty drinks on cocktail menus and decide to just order wine, instead. Or, they wonder what a suburban woman with two young kids is drinking these days (you know you do).
Like my start of making cocktails, this blog may be somewhat erratic; hopefully it too will evolve. I’ll share the techniques and shortcuts I’m learning, post some drink recipes I’m trying, describe new spirits I taste, and give you a heads-up when I find bars with great cocktails. And I’ll try to not slur my words.
Oh, and I am the ICE in Ice + Clink + Drink. It is a nickname my husband (see my “Ice, Red, Roy & Shirley” page) took from Janice, and not because I’m a cold, heartless bitch. I think. Ice is also, of course, a critical ingredient in cocktail making.