Time feels so fleeting in the summer. I always feel like a kid trying to hold sand in my hands, cradling my palms to my chest to keep the days from spilling out. Which is funny, because when I was actually a kid, summers felt interminable, as if all there was were lazy days and golden-scorched hills and melted popsicles. It felt like life had always been one long summer reverie.
And then I grew up and started working and realized, being confined indoors for 45 hours a week and all, that it’s the one season I’d like to stretch out like a slinky, maybe taking bits from January and February and even a little of March (but not my birthday). I also realized that summer cocktails are a great way of enjoying both the weather and the bounty of produce.
My favorite part about going out for cocktails is reading the menu. I love drinks that incorporate fresh fruits and herbs, interesting spices, anything with a bit of a twist. I’m also envious of all the people who are able to invent their own concoctions at home—like this, this, and this(!). Given my total lack of knowledge of alcohol, however, no such creativity has ever graced this apartment.
So, in the making of this drink, I decided to play it safe and follow the instructions faithfully. First you make a ginger syrup infused with a little cardamom (kind of the reason why I got so excited about this recipe in the first place). Then you muddle fresh peach slices and mint. While they’re releasing the most wonderful smell ever, because what epitomizes summer more than those two scents, you add in some bourbon, lemon juice, and the ginger syrup. Finally, in goes the ice (cubed, in my case. Where does the home drinkmaker get crushed ice? Or do most people just smash up their cubes?), and a generous pour of ginger ale to top it off.
Afterward, you sip at it slowly while reading a book, something lowbrow and thrilling preferably, with the a/c blasting. That, my friends, is how I’m savoring my summer.
GINGER PEACH JULEP
From Bon Appetit
Makes 4 drinks
For the ginger syrup:
1 1″-piece of ginger, thinly sliced
1 whole cardamom pod, cracked, or less than 1/4 tsp ground gardamom
1/4 cup sugar
2 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
8 sprigs mint, plus more for garnish
8 oz. bourbon
4 oz. fresh lemon juice
12 oz. ginger beer (I used Reed’s)
For the ginger syrup:
Bring the ginger, cardamom, sugar, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool, then strain into a jar. Cover and chill.
For one drink:
Muddle 1/4 of the peach slices (1/2 a peach) and 2 mint sprigs in a glass. Add 2 oz. bourbon, 1 oz. lemon juice, and 1/2 oz. ginger syrup. Fill glass with ice, and add 2-3 oz. ginger beer. Garnish with a mint sprig.