drink away those winter woes
I have a confession: I don’t like the winter.
I don’t think I’m alone in this, judging by the 5, 000 conversations I’ve had in the past two months about the treacherous and hellacious nature of wintertime in Providence. My main question is: Why do we continue, generation after generation, to live in these places that are fundamentally inhospitable to human life?
I’ll admit there are certain aspects of this five-month marathon we New Englanders call a “season” that I enjoy. I do enjoy skiing fresh powder under a bluebird sky, and I welcome any chance to drink cocoa or hot cider. But, even though it’s heresy for a Vermonter and a skier, when it comes down to it, I’ll always choose sun over snow.
I am familiar with the well-worn arguments in favor of winter. And I’ll tell you, I don’t give a damn if tromping around in the snow as a kid, getting frostbite weekend after weekend, and knowing how to build a fire with my eyes closed gives me “character.” As for the argument that long winters make us appreciate summer more—that’s just pathetic. We’re willing to sacrifice half our calendar year to this infernal season so for the five minutes it’s warm outside we can be more grateful? I don’t think so.
I recently read that humans spend 10 months of our lives talking about the weather. That is an extremely long time. For context, consider the fact that we spend a mere 14 days kissing, and three months in traffic. If half a New Englander’s life is spent enduring winter months, that means that we spend FIVE WHOLE MONTHS saying things like “damn it is cold as balls outside” and “why do I live in this godforsaken place again?”
The month of March is finally upon us, and it seems the bitter winds will not be subsiding any time soon. I still have to scramble over a literal snow mountain to leave my house, and my parka remains hanging in its prominent position next to my front door. It is not, by any reasonable measure, spring yet.
But I am hereby proposing a change of mindset, and with that, a toast. I resolve to simply bring spring into existence by strength of will. If we just act like it’s here, then it’s got to come, right?
And what better way to embody a season than to imbibe its best beverages? If you, like me, never want to see another icicle again, then join me in my pursuit of warm weather libations. These three cocktail recipes are some of my favorites. They’re simple and fresh, and each is a tried and true crowd pleaser.
If midterm season is stopping you from indulging in the cocktail action, just remember that spring break is right around the corner. Until then—I’ll be mixing up summer cocktails, blasting the Beach Boys on repeat, and pretending the snow outside is white Caribbean sand.
Note: If you’ve never made simple syrup before, fear not! Just combine equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan, and bring it to a summer (Oops, did I say summer? I meant simmer) while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool. If you don’t want to bother, you can use agave as a replacement—just use a little more than half what the recipe calls for.
If you don’t have fancy cocktail glasses, you’re in luck again. The best thing about these drinks is they taste delicious and summery no matter what receptacle they’re served in, even a good old Brown University mug.
6 oz white rum (a typical shot glass is 1.5 oz)
Juice of 4 limes, plus wedges
6 sprigs fresh mint leaves
4 oz simple syrup
Combine rum, lime, mint, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Divide between four highball glasses with ice, and fill remainder of glasses with seltzer. Add a wedge of lime for garnish.
Fresh AF French 75
6 oz gin
2 oz simple syrup
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 bottle Champagne
Lemon twists for garnish
Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon. Divide between four champagne glasses. Top with champagne and stir. Garnish with lemon twists.
Fancy Shmancy Vodka Lemonade
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
6 sprigs fresh thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, or a combination
2 cups fresh lemon juice, about 12 lemons
1 cup vodka
Boil water, sugar, and herbs in a saucepan, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Let cool. In a pitcher, combine lemon juice, vodka, and herbal syrup. Garnish with more of the herbs of choice. Divide into 4 cups with ice.