The Elephant in My Bar
When quarantining began, a friend and I were talking about our grand plans. There would be closets cleaned, garages organized and long neglected projects finished.
For two days I made great progress. Then, bam. Nothing.
The Gwyneth Paltrow meme that was circulating pretty much sums up my first few weeks. In said meme Gwyneth was advising the hoi polloi to write a book or learn a language during quarantine. I'm too busy shaking potato chip crumbs out of my bra was the meme response.
After about a month of shaking out potato chip crumbs, I fully embraced the opportunity to work on my home. I am now the proud owner of an organized spice cabinet (kind of), a logical pantry (the baking supplies are actually next to baking supplies) and as of yesterday, a fully inventoried bar.
That twenty-five years of paperwork and my abysmal clothing closet still seek my attention is of no consequence. Priorities are my forte.
Which takes me back to the bar. During my complete and total excavation of the cabinets under the bar, the drawers above the cabinets, the wine rack/ table that doubles as additional liquor space and my entire refrigerator, I still didn't find what I was searching for.
Bitters. Peychauds, to be exact.
What I did, find, however, completely baffled me. Three large unopened bottles of sweet vermouth.
Sweet vermouth. Seriously? I have no idea where they came from.
The five, three-fourth empty bottles of Jamieson - now those are a different story. They arrived with a frequent party guest who always brings a bottle of her favorite beverage to share. (Thank you, Laura F.) Like all good guests should, she leaves the leftovers with her hostess.
Spoiler alert. Within the next week or two we will attempt to make liqueurs with that leftover whiskey.
But for now, I'm still wondering where all of this vermouth came from. Do any of you guys know? Am I ignorant of what should be the bartender's best friend, or is sweet vermouth the white elephant of liquors? A hostess gift that is passed from one confused recipient to the next?
Like the game hot potato, only with sweet vermouth. Fair warning for my fellow Dirty Santa game players. Unless you people send me some recipes, you know what I'll be contributing next Christmas.
Also included in the bar inventory was an almost full bottle of Key lime pie vodka. Though the vodka sounded good when I bought it, I didn't realize it was heavily sweetened. You'd think the word pie might have clued me in. Or the fact that the word liqueur sat under that. I had only noticed the word vodka at the top. It sat unused because I wasn't sure what to pair it with.
Quarantining, however, has been my season of magical thinking. Though most of my loved ones have been at arm's length, the ghosts of my past have been by my side.
Fond memories of friends, family and food have sustained me. Bringing those memories into the kitchen has not only comforted me, but has created new memories for Sam and Laura's family, the recipients of most of my creations.
So yesterday, when I picked up that dusty bottle of Key lime pie vodka. I didn't push it aside. My mind immediately went to freezies.
Every New Orleans child in my generation knows what freezies are. While every parish near us may have had sno-ball stands, almost every single street had houses on it where freezies were sold.
As a kid, I could never figure out why the Kool-aid I froze in Dixie cups never tasted as good as the freezies from the lady down the street.
Cardboard signs would list the cost and available flavors, and kids would generally knock at the back door to buy their frozen treats.
As an adult I realized the better freezie mamas were using the syrups designed for sno-balls. Richer and sweeter than a powdered drink, these freezies retained a depth of flavor and texture that were hard to duplicate.
Key lime pie vodka is very sweet. And alcohol doesn't become rock hard when you freeze it. I suspected that this vodka added to other flavorings, might just make a fun and tasty freezie.
I wasn't wrong. I liked my freezie so much, in fact, that I had a hard time not eating it at ten a.m. this morning, when I brought it outside to photograph it.
Though the color isn't as vibrant as I would like, the flavor and texture are definitely there. It is the perfect accompaniment to a dip in the pool, cocktail hour on the patio, or an early morning photo shoot.
Sun sparkles on the water. Coconut palms sway as a serene duck carelessly floats by. A click and a rapid hum. The automatic timer turns the sprinkler on. Icy water is blasted onto the phone, the photographer and the freezie. Ghosts of childhood past, indeed.
1/4 cup Key lime pie vodka
1 Capri Sun pouch Fruit Punch
Juice of one orange
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
Combine all ingredients and stir well. Pour into paper cups. Freeze overnight or until solid.
Note: The fruit punch here is a six ounce package. Any kind of fruit punch can be substituted, as can the Key lime pie vodka (liqueur). I also found some root beer flavored rum during my bar inventory. Surprisingly, the bottle is almost full. Yes. It was my purchase. A premonition, perhaps, that root beer float freezies were somewhere in my future.