On Mondays, I do my grocery shopping for the week and I like to write up a Monday Mixology post. Honestly, who doesn't need a drink on Monday?
I usually mix something up in the afternoon and then write up the recipe while I drink it. I would imagine if I look through the archives, the stiffest drinks likely include posts with the wittiest writing (or most typos). This one is not a strong drink, though, so I'm enjoying my drink at noon without a worry.
This morning, I found this cute little lemon balm plant sneaking up out of the ground in my garden. I planted the seeds this summer, and the plants grew and then didn't do great and died. It's right next to my mint, which hasn't faded, even through winter, so I thought maybe this just isn't a good spot for lemon balm and I forgot about it. But it's back, and I'm so pleased. Lemon balm has a citrus-y flavor, like the name implies, but is also very herbaceous, almost like a citronella. It grew wild all along the river at my grandfather's, and I associate the smell and flavor with calm, summer, and joy. I love lemon balm essential oil, and use it especially when my anxiety is going a little haywire. Why not mix it with booze, right?
When we moved to Texas a few years ago, I was introduced to the "Arnold Palmer" at a fancy movie theater and pub we used to go to. If I didn't want booze (?!?!?!), I'd get soda sometimes, but I don't really like soda. So one day, my husband suggested I get an "Arnold Palmer." It sounded like an alcoholic drink, and said I wasn't feeling it, but he explained that it's just equal parts iced tea and lemonade. I loved it. In the south, everywhere you go has iced tea (usually already sweetened) and they all know what an Arnold Palmer is, so that became my non-alcoholic drink of choice. Once I discovered Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, an alcoholic version became my favorite. For a really strong drink, you can mix sweet tea vodka and lemon vodka and just pass out.
Anyway, I was thinking about my Monday Mixology and my lemon balm and saw my Lemon Balm tea out on the counter, and the Lemon Balmer was born.
Start with a STRONG tea. I used two bags of lemon balm tea (herbal infusion, I know) in one cup hot water and let it steep a half hour or so, until the tea is mostly room temp.
Pour your cooled strong lemon balm tea over about 1 cup ice and add 2 cups apple cider. I chose a nice tart Crispin apple cider brewed with maple syrup, and it was very nice. Via Barnivore, all Crispin's ciders are vegan unless they specify on the label that they use honey (they are very clearly labeled and I appreciate the transparency). I topped with a few lemon balm leaves because I had them, but that's purely optional.
How do you fit that much in one cup? Obviously you need these gorgeous green glass mason jars like I have.
Once upon a time, before kids, I did things like go out to the sushi bar every Thursday night. There was another young, childless couple, that my boyfriend and I would see there often, and after a few awkward weeks of chatting across the bar and acknowledging that we clearly had the same date night, we just started sitting together. One week, the wife invited me to join her book club. She said it was fine if I hadn't read the book, but I should come to the meeting that month to meet everyone, and then next month I'd be like a regular. I was nervous to meet a new group of people, but it sounded like a fun thing to be nervous about. I had just graduated with my English Degree a year before, and the idea of talking to other ladies about books again really delighted me.
I drove to my sushi-friend's house, and then we rode together to the book club meeting. I realized that it was mostly social, although we talked about the book, and there was drinking involved. The club had a rule that they would potluck bring food associated to a theme picked from the book. I don't remember the book, but Spanish/Mexican food was the food theme. That was the first time I saw someone use a citrus press, which seemed kind of silly at the time but I now have and use nearly every day, and it was also the first time I had sangria. I thought it was just wine and juice (no one explained that hard alcohol was involved) and I foolishing drank it like the fruit punch I seemed to think it was.
I soon found myself wasted drunk and surrounded by strangers. When we got back to sushi-friend's house, I knew there was no way I was getting in my car, so her husband drove me home and I had to have my boyfriend drive me back to my car the next day.
I learned a lot that day. That book club is the model for all that is wonderful about female interactions. It was a group of social workers mostly. One woman was a counselor, others worked in different capacity, all helping juvenile offenders through the justice system. They were compassionate and funny and smart and the kind of women I have sought out since. I also learned the joy of a book club that doesn't have to take itself too seriously, and instead focuses on the joyful ways books bring us together and the pleasure of hanging out (and drinking) with other women.
I'm not afraid of sangria anymore- much- so for my first in a regular part of my blog on La Croix cocktails (La Croixcktails), I've decided on an aptly green sangria for St. Patrick's Day to offer an alternative to the beer with food coloring so often associated with the day. This is my first attempt, so be gentle as I work on my mixology skills.
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup brandy
I green apple, sliced
Most-all of alime La Croix (it would be good with other flavors too)
I mixed mine in a quart mason jar, because it's a gorgeous green cup, with about a cup of ice.
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