Author’s Note: Greetings from the World’s Shoddiest Blogger! Truly, I meant to post this a few weeks ago, but you know…Rotavirus. Plus, Mama fractured her back in two places and had to go in for a fixer-upper, so I had to fret about that and eat what I call “worry food” for a few days. Perhaps the Rotavirus was nature’s way of getting rid of those extra “worry food” pounds? Whatever, nature–I’m still not thanking you for that Rotavirus.
So, I went back to the drawing board and scheduled this to go up this past week, but the universe wasn’t done shoveling crud on my platter just yet. I had to *GAA* get two crowns at the dentist and I am one of those freaks who has to be heavily sedated to even set foot in a dentist’s chair. Thank you drugs! And thank you, tolerant husband who took time off to drive my drooling, medicated arse back and forth across town. It was a relief to check that little matter off the to-do list and get back to work, but then.
I woke up after my dental misery with a throbbing welt on my right hand. I looked down and saw some sort of angry-looking…pustule (?) below my pinkie finger. It was too small to be a mosquito bite; plus, it didn’t itch–it hurt! I didn’t see a stinger, so I didn’t think it was a wasp, but there was a definite puncture there. My husband and I shook our heads. What took a chomp out of me? Ant? Spider? “Keep an eye on it,” he said. Not hard to do, since a few hours later, half of my hand was scarlet and disgustingly bloated and OWWWW. Whatever it was that bit me, my body definitely said, “Uh, Hell no!” Again, thank you, doctors and thank you, drugs! And thanks again to my husband, who has been to the pharmacy far more than anyone should these last few weeks.
So finally, you get this post, which is about a cocktail. I think this is perfectly fitting, don’t you? We all need one.
Last month, my husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary with a quick overnight getaway to downtown Denver. Although it’s only an hour away, we rarely make the trip to Denver, which is a shame, because Denver’s got a lot to offer, especially when it comes to eating and drinking. In fact, it took me forever to research dining options online because there were so many new, awesome-sounding dining options that have popped up just in the last few months. I tell you, Denver is growing like gangbusters–we couldn’t believe all of the new loft/condo developments going up in the River North and Highlands areas. It’s not a cow town any more, folks!
As luck would have it, we also had another reason to spend time in Denver–my friend Katrina was in town for a conference. Katrina and I met in kind of a nutty way; we both joined an online pregnancy board in early 2001, when we were expecting our first-born babies. Some of the women who joined that pregnancy board are still close friends to this day, even though it’s been over 14 years since we “virtually” met. My husband thought it was kind of weird at first, the way women can bond so quickly and so closely without really “knowing” each other. These were in the dark days, before Facebook and before blogging really took over the Internet, so I kind of understood where he was coming from.
I gotta say, though–there’s something about the process of growing another human being inside your body that fosters sisterhood. Every day, I’d visit my fellow moms-to-be on that Yahoo board, and we’d gossip, groan, seek advice and share every living detail of our lives. Things change and people move on, and that Yahoo board is long defunct, but some of those women are lasting friends.
^we so do not look almost 15 years older, right Katrina?
We took Katrina to this crazy little speakeasy-type place for cocktails called Union Lodge #1. The drink menu was very retro–lots of classics like Sazeracs and Old Fashioneds–but they also added some creative spins to old favorites. Katrina and I fell in love with the Rosemary Tom Collins. I’m a fan of the regular Tom Collins, because I like all things lemon, but the rosemary-infused version we had at Union Lodge had an addictive complexity that made it very hard not to inbibe like, six of them in a row.
^we did not imbibe six. We didn’t!
“These things are dangerous,” Katrina said, and I agreed.
I also couldn’t get that drink out of my head once I returned home, so I decided that come Hell or Highwater, I was going to figure out that drink. I especially wanted to make it because September was a record-hot month for Colorado, and that thing is refreshing.
“Pick up some gin on your way home,” I texted my husband a few days after our Denver trip. “I’m going all mad scientist in here with rosemary simple syrup.”
“I love it when you mad scientist,” he said.
I liked the first batch I made, which was just a straight-up traditional Tom Collins, with the addition of fresh rosemary to the simple syrup. It was refreshing and not overpoweringly herbacious, which was something I’d been worried about. Gin is already kind of herb-flavored, with all of that juniper, so I worried that adding rosemary to the mix would be overkill. It wasn’t, but I also thought it needed more of a lemon flavor. I like a good, lemon punch to my Tom Collins. This didn’t have that.
Back to the tinkering.
Just adding more lemon juice to the shaker didn’t really work out. The balance of sweet/tart/astringent was thrown off, even when a added a touch more simple syrup. The addition of Limoncello, an Italian liqueur, definitely amped up the lemon flavor, but then I kind of lost the rosemary.
Batch # *hic* 3 *hic*: I decided to muddle a chunk of lemon and a snippet of rosemary in the bottom of the cocktail shaker before adding the ice and the rest of the ingredients. BAM! That’s what I was looking for.
Sweet, lemony, effervescent and herbally complex, this was the ticket.
Rosemary-Infused Tom Collins
4 oz gin
2 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. Limoncello
1 oz. rosemary simple syrup
a chunk of lemon and a small snip of rosemary, for muddling
lemon, or rosemary (or both) for garnish
Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 rosemary sprigs
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat, add the rosemary sprigs and cover the pan. Let steep for one hour. Remove rosemary and refrigerate.
In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the lemon and the rosemary with the back of a spoon until mashed and fragrant. Add ice to the shaker. Add gin, lemon juice, Limoncello and rosemary simple syrup. Plop the top on the shaker and shake the bezeejus out of it.
Strain into chilled, ice-filled Collins glasses. Add a little splash of club soda and garnish.
Even now that the weather’s beginning to cool a little, I’m still going to be making these. They’re just too good to reserve for shorts and flip-flops weather. Keep your eyes peeled for my next mad scientist concoction, which is decidedly more fall oriented–maple infused old fashioned, anyone? Oh yeah. Stay tuned!