July 30, 2019
At the end of this blog I will share with you the cocktail recipe for a Gin and Tonic that will actually convince you that you like Gin and Tonics. But first, I'll tell you a funny story about the pre-cocktail days of Venise and Belinda, aka the Simple Goodness Sisters. And also, I'll stop referring to us in the third person.
You've heard a lot of Grandma Nancy, aka "the Nanc" if you've been following along with us for a while. you haven't yet had the pleasure of hearing about her sister, Aunt Patty, but today is your lucky day. Aunt Patty and Grandma Nanc are one of many sister teams we've had the privilege to look up to in our families (our mom was one of 5 girls, who are the other role models.) We believe in the importance of seeing in person, by example, who we can become as women. These women did that for us. Through all of the tape line down the middle of the shared bedroom, bickering, or even worse, silent treatment years of childhood and adolescence, we saw adult women leaning on their sisters, laughing with their sisters, confiding in and growing with their sisters nd we filed that away for later. Now, we're best friends, but it took a while to get there.
Nanc and Patty regularly laughed until they peed. The laugh wasn't loud, it was the signature family laugh of silent guffaws and struggling to breathe, not dissimilar to a donkey bray but paired with shaking shoulders and desperately crossed legs. I think that's the first fact you should know about those goofballs. They were known by their husbands as troublemakers whose ability to make trouble increased by threefold in the presence of the other. With a deep sense of humor and an utter lack of an embarrassment bone (a genetic trait we happily inherited along with bright blue eyes and wide shoulders) these two were the belles of their retirement community's Comedy Club and a bomb waiting to go off at a dinner party.
They also shared the incredible closeness, the unmatched intimacy, of sisters whose lives hadn't always been easy but they chose to laugh through it regardless. Their mother, our great grandma Adeline, was a beautiful and sad woman, who'd been denied the option to marry her first love by her father and brothers, and later struggled with alcoholism and depression, subjecting her girls to her troubles in an era when help for a woman with these troubles, or her children, wasn't readily available. They each married young, as was the age, and as was a means to an escape from an unhappy home (though family members who lived nearby made sure the girls were safe and cared for.) They were both whip smart, promise filled, and went to beauty school, as girls from the Kent Valley in that day did.
Through marriages, children, homes, and their own troubles, the two stayed close to one another both geographically and emotionally. They raised their children together over backyard bbqs and water skiing on Lake Tapps, where Aunt Patty lived. Nanc, while from the same blue collar family and with her own ability to tell a dirty joke, traveled internationally, and loved to host a dinner party with good china. Aunt Patty and Uncle Clay owned a bar for years, and loved to gather family around them for beers by the lake. Aunt Patty never missed a chance to tell a joke at her sister's expense, as sister's do. When it came time to retire, they both chose to Sunbird in Arizona, reconnecting their childhood closeness over daily happy hours, comedy club, golfing, and jeeping with Aunt Patty's husband Clay. At those happy hours, Aunt Patty drank Gin and Tonics and smoked cigarettes and made fun of her older, more proper sister Nancy.
So when Aunt Patty died, leaving her older sister devastated and all of us surrounding the Nanc, needing to make her laugh, we gathered up supplies for a round of Gin and Tonics. We grabbed gin from Grandma's infamous bar, a location in which half the bottles were watered down from the years of our adolescence. We managed to find an unmolested bottle of gin (variety since forgotten but not a good one), some Schweppes, a few limes, and proceeded to make and then spit out, the gin and tonics. We hated them. And it made Nanc laugh, and then us laugh, until we peed.
This recipe is our remedy to the Gin and Tonic we couldn't stomach that day. We've since developed a deep love of gin and an appreciation for botanical, New American styles of gin that sing with a whole harmony of flavors instead of slamming juniper down your throat in a single, harsh note. We have also discovered Tonic syrups like Bradley's Tonic, Meriwether's,and & Tonic, all great artisanal tonic concentrates that add additional layers to the tongue. We've learned the importance of a hearty citrus addition, beyond a limp, anemic squeeze of lime. Best of all, we've made our Lemon Herb syrup, which adds a sweetness and a whole lot of citrus and herb flavor to a gin and tonic when you don't have a tonic syrup or a ton of fresh citrus available to you. For the complete G&T novice, you can add more Lemon Herb syrup, for an experienced G& T enthusiast, 1/4 ounce will do.
Because citrus is a classic part of a gin and tonic recipe, and because all four of the herbs that we use to make the Lemon Herb syrup (sage, rosemary, thyme, and a slight touch of lavender) are commonly found in new American style gins, this is a match made in Heaven. We think Aunt Patty, up there and laughing, would definitely approve.
makes 1 cocktail
To Make the Cocktail:
Add lemon or lime wedge to a cocktail shaker and muddle gently to express oils from the peel. Add all other ingredients to a shaker. Shake and strain into a fresh glass of ice. Stemmed glasses with large bowls and an open top make for a fun presentation and will keep the drink very cold. Top with club soda and stir gently. Garnish with a sage leaf or thyme sprig if available, and a crescent slice of lemon.