MANY WEEKS into the quarantine, we have a new MVP at our house. I wish I could say it was the cook/cleaner/house manager, which happens to be me, but it’s not. The most valued player here is my husband, the mixologist who every
evening brightens our home with ice and spirits all magically shaken together and served with a smile.
Cameron has always enjoyed a little drink-making. We have long joked his marriage vows included, “and always make sure Stephanie has her beverage of choice,” but the quarantine has brought true meaning to those words. Who knew every evening would be spent at home and that we would need to find small ways to entertain ourselves?
Armed with How to Cocktail (America’s Test Kitchen, 2019), a winning last-minute Christmas gift from our son Ben, Cameron has become a master bartender. He’s been shaking up icy-cold martinis, bone-dry Vespers, a really good, grapefruity Bijon Frisé and his latest, the Sazerac, all with the help of that last-minute gift. Thank you, Cameron. Thank you, Ben.
Turns out, we’re not the only ones. My brother-in-law Lewis was missing the icy-cold martinis he used to get at restaurants, so Susan, my sister, went on Amazon to buy him a cocktail shaker. While she was browsing, she decided to also order The Joy of Mixology (Clarkson Potter, 2018). Soon Lewis was lined up at the local ABC store (we live in Virginia), ordering, at a social distance, the makings of a well-stocked bar: gin, Campari, rye, simple syrup, Bailey’s, Kahlua, vermouth, vodka and an assortment of bitters. Last night’s cocktail was a cooler-than-cool Negroni.
Over at my friend Dorothy’s house, daughter Claire is the spirit-brightener. Claire graduated from college in May and, pre-quarantine, had been working as an actual bartender while looking for a job with a non-profit. Now she’s plying her trade in her parents’ kitchen with a very receptive audience waiting in the living room. Claire is finding the whole ritual comforting and a very well-received outlet for her creativity. She’s even coming up with her own recipes. Her latest is a Spicy Cucumber Cilantro Margarita, which Dorothy describes as refreshing and pleasantly cucumbery.
I’m raising a virtual glass to my bartender husband and all the others out there. I can’t visit, but I know you’re mixing up something good. When the quarantine ends, we’ll come over and enjoy a drink together.
—Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
Claire’s Spicy Cucumber Cilantro Margarita
Juice of 1 lime, saving the husk of the lime to wet the rim of the glass
4 thin slices of peeled cucumber
1½ ounces blanco tequila
2 sprigs cilantro
2 fresh basil leaves, torn up
2 thin slices of jalapeño, seeds removed if you want it less spicy
Seasoned salt (Claire used Penzeys’)
In a cocktail shaker, mash together the lime juice and cucumber until liquidy. Add the tequila, the leaves from one of the sprigs of cilantro and the basil and a handful of ice. Place the top on the shaker and shake until the mixture is well chilled. Add the jalapeño slices and shake two more times, or longer for a spicier flavor.
Wet the rim of a cocktail glass with the lime husk and dip the rim in seasoned salt. Strain the mixture into the glass and garnish with the remaining sprig of cilantro.
When it comes to entertaining, LittleBird “Stephanie Cooks” is the MVP of MLB.