Our liquor cabinet is pleasantly full these days. I’m not sure how this happened, as my boyfriend and I are both university students relying on a student budget. But just the other day, as we were packing up to move into our new apartment, I surveyed the liquor bottles and took stock. Gin, of course, and lots of it. Jack Daniels (and lots of it), rum, Grand Marnier, port wine, sherry, as well as a healthy hoard of beer and wine.
Now, some of you may be sitting there completely unimpressed. In my eyes, I see a grandiose liquor cabinet teeming with bountiful spirits and smiles. In your eyes, you may see a crumbling shoebox, barren but for a few half-empties and reminders of a youthful haze in your life that you’d really rather forget. Whatever your opinion may be, I think we may all agree upon the fact that a cabinet of gin, whiskey and rum is an okay place to start.
Last summer, my roommate, Irena, and I had just moved into our new apartment. We both shared similar sentiments about our first year at university—it was slightly insane, and we wanted to begin our journey into adulthood. First stop? Developing a liquor shelf that consisted of more than a 500 mL bottle of vodka.
Throughout the year, we used our trusty shaker to construct a variety of beverages. Pear cocktails, Sidecars, dirty mojitos, and a little something special we like to call “À bientôt”. I accredit the idea for this blueberry-lavender-basil creation to a creative year spent with Irena, mixing, spilling, and breaking. And toasting to the end of a long day.
Now, for a music review. If you had perchance read my post titled “The Music Project”, you well know that I have been on a musical binge lately. I’ve made some great discoveries, here’s one of the best:
Bill Callahan’s deadpan voice would seem apathetic and disconnected at first listen. Yet, you’ve only to listen to the words he’s singing to realize his utter unity with the music. The album is like a dream sequence, each song a single step in an ethereal dance.
I distinctly remember listening to this album with my friend Hashmita one evening this summer. We sat on the upper curve of a grassy hill across the street from my house. The sky was dark but for the pinkish glow of lights and pollution. Some stars stuck through. A blanket warmed us as we stared across the grassy expanse at the rain that was beginning to fall. We felt it on our faces, our palms and legs. All the while, Bill Callahan sang of trees and birds, and I grinned, unadulterated, unworried, as the electricity rose from the ground and shattered the sky into a detonation of purple light.
I mean, you gotta listen now, right?
Gin and Tonic with blueberries, basil, and lavender
(makes one drink)
Chilled tonic water
Lavender simple syrup (recipe to follow)
1 tablespoon frozen blueberries*
2 fresh basil leaves
A healthy squeeze of fresh lime (I used half a lime)
*If you prefer to use fresh berries, be my guest. I chose to use frozen blueberries because they add a nice syrupy texture to the drink.
Lavender Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
To make the lavender simple syrup, heat water in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Add sugar and allow the mixture to boil until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove the mixture from the heat but keep in the saucepan. Add the lavender buds and cover the pot. Allow the lavender to steep for 10-15 minutes. Pour the mixture into a bowl covered in a cheesecloth (or strainer) to separate the lavender and the simple syrup. You may bottle what you don’t use—just put a lid on the container and store it in the fridge.
Your proportions per drink should be 1 part gin: 3 parts tonic water: 1 part simple syrup. Feel free to fiddle with these measurements to suit your taste (I personally can’t get enough of that lavender simple syrup).
Fill a shaker about halfway full with ice. To the shaker, add the gin, tonic water, simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake, shake, shake. Take 1 tsp. of this mixture and pour it into a mortar and pestle. Add the basil leaves and grind until you see an algae-colored mixture. Strain this through the cheesecloth and into the drink. Shake, shake, shake.
Put ice cubes into your serving glass. Drop blueberries onto ice, pour the drink on top, and serve.