Friday, May 13, 2011

Sips of Spring

Warm weather is finally here in New York! The street landscaping is in full bloom, with the concrete planters and low iron fences caging soft, candy-colored ruffles. I've already grown used to seeing those swaths of pinks and purples on my way to work every morning, already take them for granted. But a few weeks ago I was home in the suburbs for Passover and caught that moment when spring sneaks forth in little pops from its melting, molting winter backdrop: branches of yellow forsythia against mildewed siding; still-naked tulip stems poking like fingers through damp mulch; vivid shocks of moss on sodden asphalt.

This lime cordial reminded me of early spring in the suburbs, when that freshness is still a surprise. The piles of zest on my cutting board looked like new moss on asphalt, and the gouged surfaces of the limes gave off the grassy scent of lawn clippings. With the cordial, I made a cross between my two favorite drinks, the Rickey and the Gimlet. Unfortunately, Rimlet (or Gickey) doesn't sound quite as beguiling as its forefathers, but whatever zip this hybrid cocktail lacks in title it makes up in flavor. It's guaranteed to put a spring in your sandal-clad step (and will help distract from the pale flashes of your early spring toes).

Raw Lime Cordial
Lightly adapted from

4 fresh limes
4 tbsp bottled lime juice
2/3 cup sugar

(Loose) Directions:
Zest the limes with a microplaner, or peel them with a vegetable peeler, removing as little of the underlying white pith as possible. I zested two, and when I got bored of that peeled the rest for some variety. Cut the limes in half and squeeze them into a glass container. Add the bottled lime juice and sugar. Shake until the sugar dissolves into the juice. Add the zest and peels, pinching and squeezing the latter a bit as you put them in to release the oils. Cover and refrigerate 12-24 hours, shaking the container once or twice over the course of the refrigeration time (if you remember). Strain into a bottle, and let refrigerate for one more day before using.

Gickey (or Rimlet)
3 parts gin
1 part lime cordial
A squeeze of lime juice
1.5 parts seltzer/sparkling water

Lime wedge, basil leaf, or cucumber for garnish
Serve over ice (or shake the first three ingredients and strained into a chilled cocktail glass, topping with seltzer, if you're fancy like that)

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