Drinks for Dog Days

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Listen, I had a day at work on Friday. Luckily, I wasn’t at the center of it, but it was day. I don’t drink, as a rule. And by that I mean, it’s not a rule at all. I just don’t usually care for drinking, unless I’m drinking at home and even then, not very often. But in the summer before I left the city to come to Korea, a very dear friend of mine who I had not seen in five years came to visit me from Vienna where she, a Croatian, was living. I had a little apartment in Sunset Park, right down the street from the Greenwood Cemetery and no money for a window unit or the resulting electricity bills. She was a bartender and couldn’t understand why I didn’t have any gin in the freezer. We remedied the situation with haste, and gin and tonic, in my mind, has been as good as air conditioning ever since. There’s some sweet memory of those precious few summer nights perched out on the fire escape with her, trying to catch a breeze, in every glass of the stuff I’ve had since that summer.

When I finally got out of work on Friday, it was hot. This is the hottest week we’ve had all summer. So I dropped into the shops and grabbed a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. Yesterday, after B sat on some shelves and broke them (I don’t know), we headed out to try to find some replacements. What we found instead were some beautiful yellow peaches at Orga, which is kind of like the Korean version of Whole Foods, except much smaller. I already had blueberries in the fridge, so I clipped some rosemary and basil from our plants and decided to try to fancy up our drinks a bit and make a night of it.

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Essentially what I did was make two different flavored simple syrups, which to me is the easiest way to flavor a drink at home. It’s a long story, but basically, I got tired of breaking Korean blenders and, a year or so back, just gave up and ordered a Black & Decker food processor. To make the long story very short, it came equipped with an American plug, so now when I want to process something, I have to haul out this hulking converter and set up this whole system that sometimes gives me a mild electric shock for no apparent reason. Did I mention that it was hot? So rather than do that, I just muddled the ingredients with my mortal and pestle, which worked very well, actually, and made straining out the solid bits easier.

I thought the tartness of the blueberries would pair nicely with the slight spice of the basil, and the aromatic properties of the peaches would go well with a bit of rosemary. I think mint and lime are probably up next.

And so I sat at the kitchen table while decade-old songs played on the stereo and bombarded B with sentimental prattle, ignoring my phone, which was buzzing across the table with work stuff I’ll have to face tomorrow.


 

Blueberry Basil Gin & Tonic Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup basil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup water

Rosemary Peach Gin & Tonic Simple Syrup

  • 1 peach, sliced, pitted and peeled
  • 5 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup water

Muddle the fruit and herbs with a mortar and pestle (or smash them in a bowl with the back of a spoon) until the juices and oils are released. Heat them over medium low heat along with the water and sugar, stirring often so that the sugar doesn’t scorch. After about ten minutes, when the mixture has thickened and darkened in color, strain out the solids. Add a tablespoon or two to taste to your gin and tonic.

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