Thursday, July 3, 2008


Have a submission for the summer cocktail series? Send it along and if you are a regular commenter, be sure to remind us of your alias in your email that we might give you proper credit. [Ed note, we've had a couple of shorter ones come through. When there are enough shorter pieces, I'll consolidate them into one entry].

Anyway, from reader Kate, we have a few thoughts about gin and tonics. Or is it gins and tonic?


I wasn't yet five, but old enough to talk when I first yelled the phrase, "Gin and tonics for everybubby!" We were at a motor lodge on a southern beach where my mom's family went every year. They'd been going since she was in high school, and when she got married and had us, we got to go too. Later, the year I turned five, my grandparents built a house on a beach north of the lodge, where our traditions continued. While beers are perfectly good for drinking on the beach after riding a few waves, very cold gin and tonics remain the cocktail drink of choice. We spend all day at the beach, with a brief lunch break up at the house around noon. By 4 or 4:30, when the sun hits that perfect angle behind the dune, and the ocean is as pretty as gets all day, we start thinking about how lovely life is and about how it's getting to be that time to get back to the house. The walk back is best if we've been in swimming, because the sun bakes the salt on our skin on our way up to the house. Showers my granpa made from cedar boards are under the house, and the salt feels like it washes off in one fell swoop, feels like we're getting new skin every night. Once everyone is clean and dressed, appetizers start to fly out of the kitchen--usually shrimp cocktail. My grandpa would wear a blue outfit, his beach leisure outfit, of blue shorts and a blue and white zip jacket. He'd make gin and tonics on the counter while the kids watched, and he'd make us special, non-alcoholic fruit juice drinks. Then we would all go out to the front deck, where we could hear the ocean, drink our drinks and eat shrimp or cheese and crackers. Then we'd run like wild children around the house while the adults talked--most of the adults. Granpa was one of us, and would chase us around the house till we had no breath left for laughter or screaming.

There have been a few changes since I was five. The schedule remains the same, ocean swims dictated by the tides, but beach time dictated only by the presence of the sun. My granpa is no longer with us, but we have his namesake, our son, to watch my dad make the drinks. It turns out I don't even like gin, but think there's nothing better than a vodka tonic. And my dad has upgraded the level of alcohol we get in our drinks, because while my granpa was beloved, he didn't like to spend a lot on alcohol for a mixed drink. But we still walk up from the same beach, shower in the same showers, and sit on the same deck and enjoy the same sound of the waves. We're preparing for this year's trip right now and even the four year old knows there is no place better.

The perfect gin/vodka and tonic:

Fill a short, wide glass that fits nicely in the palm of your hand with ice. It can be glass, but it also can be an old plastic cup with ocean designs you've had for at least twenty years.

Pour in 1 and 1/2 or 2 ounces of gin or vodka, depending on the size of your glass. The drink should not be too strong--it should be refreshing, with a perfect mix of gin/vodka, tonic and lime. You might have to make and drink a few of these to get the perfect proportions.

Take a good sized slice of lime, squeeze it into the drink. Rim the glass generously with the lime slice. Drop it in the glass.

Fill the glass to the brim with good tonic. As drink mixer, you might need to take a sip in order to carry it to your favorite people out on the deck without spilling.

While you can have one of these away from the beach, it certainly ought to be at the end of a hot day, when the sun has finally given you a break and you can sit outside.

I could write a similar story about my family, my granpa and Old Fashioned's, but as everyone knows, those are a winter drink, for Christmas and New Year's Eve parties.

With credit to 3under5, whose story got me thinking about my own Granpa.

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