This week, I am restless. Our Spring began with nearly a foot of fresh snow on the ground, and I spent the past several days glaring at the dreary, dull-white landscape outside my desk window, feeling rather unenthused about everything. (Don’t worry, I promise my entire post isn’t this grumpy. It gets better, and there’s booze!)
For me, yesterday was the first day of Spring. I say this because it was the first day this year that I opted to walk rather than drive to the UPS drop box near my house. When I say near, I mean three blocks away. And when I say three blocks, I mean three Burlington blocks, which is maybe the equivalent of one block in NYC. It’s less than a mile walk, total. I hate winter. And having to put band-aids on my feet every time I want to walk downtown so I don’t get boot blisters-turned-calluses.
I am a huge believer in the catharsis of spring cleaning. Under no circumstances would anyone in their right mind label me a neat freak. I am, if anything, a pack rat with an unusual system of organized chaos. You can find evidence of my “collecting” obsessions in every corner of my room. From the shelves piled high with books to the antique bottles decorating the windows to the several dozen scarves cluttering my coat rack. And while I am content to let magazines pile up and shoes be stored in heaps under my bed for 99% of the year, this is usually the time when I freak out and set to work on creating a neater, saner space.
This task does not come easy this year, however, as I am really beginning to feel just how much I have outgrown my space in this apartment. Props are piled in the corners of my room. Skirts and tights spill out of drawers that will no longer close. A couple weeks ago, I found a shirt hanging up in my closet WITHOUT A HANGER. Just smushed between a ton of other shirts. I yearn for space, indoors and out. And less people. No college kids stumbling along the sidewalk under my window at 3:00am. No girl that was definitely not going to pick up after her dog in front of my house until I made rather severe eye contact with her as I walked up my steps, then milled around on my porch for a moment pretending to go through my mail.
Still, there are definitely many conveniences that city life affords me. Like when I decide that I’m going to make three different kinds of carbonated bottled cocktails for the open practice that Johnny’s band is hosting, only to discover halfway through the first batch (and two hours before the show) that my CO2 cartridge is definitely empty, and I need to get a new one STAT. Then, being able to run downtown and back (in my car, obv) in less than 15 minutes kind of rules.
It was from that batch of carbonated cocktails that this drink was born. I was playing around with creating a more citrusy, punch-like version of the Blinker, and what I ended up with was a Blinker and Ward Eight hybrid. My original concoction used rye, orange juice, lemon juice, and (sadly) the last of my raspberry-lemon shrub. Despite the fact that the shrub was gone, I wasn’t quite ready to let this drink go, because it’s just SO good. And when I saw this broiled grapefruit cocktail last weekend, I got really excited, and started thinking about all of the other cocktail-friendly fruits that might be improved by some oven time. And with the raspberry shrub now absent from my drink collection, my mind quickly turned to berries.
I’ll be honest with you guys. If I’d taken more pictures of the raspberries, the roasted raspberry syrup would have its own post. This stuff is stupid good. It belongs in and on everything. I groaned at the thought of paying $10 for two pints of fresh raspberries so I could make this, and I’m totally ready to go out and spend another $10 to make more, because it’s already gone, and it’s that worth it.
I also opted to give the broiled grapefruit juice a try in this drink, and it worked quite well. (I just stuck my grapefruit in a 550° oven instead of in the actual broiler, because my broiler likes to do this thing where it sets stuff on fire……) The broiling does mellow out the grapefruit a bit, but fresh lemon juice does a good job of bringing some tang to the party. I also added a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to the mix, to make up for the vinegary tang that the shrub added in the original. I really loved this drink when it was carbonated, but not everyone has the ability to do this at home. As a substitute, a splash of seltzer will work just fine. I used both coffee pecan and bergamot bitters in this drink. (Thank you to the awesome Alanna for making and sending me the latter!) I realize these aren’t readily available to everyone, though. I recommend at least using some citrus bitters, and ideally some bitters with a little bit of a deeper, more complex taste to even out the rest of the citrus.
(I’m also kind of proud that I actually managed to name this drink after deliberating over it for days. I think it’s pretty fitting, considering the oven time that goes into making the ingredients extra delicious, and the fact that this drink was originally created because I’m a crazy person that likes to go all out for anything and everything.)
Roasted Raspberry Syrup
makes: 1 cup of syrup
- 2 pints of fresh raspberries
- 1 cup of sugar
Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange raspberries in a baking dish, then toss with 1/3 of the cup of sugar, reserving the other 2/3. Roast raspberries for around 17 minutes, or until they start to smell delicious and look quite soft and liquidy.
Remove from oven and let cool for a couple minutes, then mash the raspberries with a fork or potato masher to break them up even more. Stir in the remaining sugar until dissolved.
Strain raspberries through a sieve to remove the seeds and larger chunks, then again through a sieve lined with cheesecloth to remove the finer bits. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Broiled Grapefruit Juice
makes: around 2/3 cup of juice
- 1 grapefruit, sliced in half
- brown sugar
Preheat broiler in your oven. Arrange grapefruit halves on a broiler pan or baking sheet (depending on how your oven works) and sprinkle with brown sugar. Broil for 5–10 minutes, or until a crust begins to form on the top of the grapefruit. Remove from the oven and let cool, then juice.
The Extra Mile
makes: 1 drink
- 2 1/4 oz. rye
- 3/4 oz. broiled grapefruit juice
- 3/4 oz. lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. roasted raspberry syrup
- barspoon of apple cider vinegar (just under 1 1/2 tsp)
- dash of coffee pecan bitters
- dash of bergamot bitters
- soda water
Combine all ingredients except the seltzer in a cocktail shaker and shake. Strain into a glass over ice, and top with soda water.