Thirsty Thursday! California Pt. 1

Who doesn’t love drinking on the beach? Just think about the image that pops in your head when someone says, “beach vacation.” You in a lounge chair, all tan and carefree, watching the waves through your oversized sunnies with a frozen tropical drink in your hand that is magically unphased by the heat. That’s the dream and it’s where most of us would rather be at all times.

Well, having the greatest best friend in the world has it’s advantages because mine took me on a beach vacation where we laid on our towels, all burned and carefree, watching the waves through our normal sized sunnies with a water bottle of rum and coke in each of our hands that was tragically very much phased by the heat so required chugging. And while it may not have looked like the dream to a casual onlooker, it certainly felt like it. Like our own quasi-trashy misguided dream. And it was awesome. 

We did a lot on our vacation that I’d love to (and probably will) talk about but today is Thirsty Thursday, the most honored of weekly holidays, and therefore I will be discussing the center of this sacred day: the drank. 

This is my best friend. She likes margaritas.

Since it’s summer and this was a best friend’s vacation, today I’ll be talking about another best friend that made our trip amazing: gin. 

Let me start by saying that we didn’t drink a whole lot on our trip, but the drinks I had were bomb diggity. You can’t go wrong with a nice refreshing alcoholic lemonade like we had our first day or a fragrant white sangria like I had on our last. However, there is a more flavorful and equally refreshing option when it comes to summer drinks and it is easy to find, make, and personalize. That would be the gin cocktail.

I’ve always known I liked gin. Hell, in my opinion it’s the best liquor that actually adds to the drink (this is coming from someone who doesn’t like dark liquors besides spiced rum and has previously favored “so sweet that it disguises the actual alcohol taste” vodka cocktails). Gin is the first alcohol that I thought, “this doesn’t need disguising, it needs complimenting and enhancing!” And thus began my love affair with gin. 

Ethan and I have a hobby of playing bartender/mixologist at our house so we have a stocked bar cart at pretty much all times. A few months ago I did a lot of experimenting at home with gin. I tried all kinds of mixtures and flavors and had some hits and misses. After all of that, I found the golden four ingredients that can make an amazing gin drink in almost any combination: lime, lemon, mint, and rosemary. This is obvious to anyone who routinely orders gin cocktails but keep in mind, I had just discovered this gin gem (say that three times fast) so had no experience with even looking at it on a menu.

Fast forward to California. It had been a few months since my gin obsession and the cocktails I was making weren’t really winter drinks, so it fell by the wayside. However, now it was hot, I was at the beach, and we were celebrating so I was promptly reminded of that gin bliss at the second bar we went to when I saw this on the menu:

That’s some damn crushed ice right there!

It had gin, lemoncello, mint, and some other delicious crap I don’t remember. I ordered it, took a sip, and I was home. It was perfect after a long day of traveling and walking. I mean, look at that little mint sprig up there! If that doesn’t say “refreshing start to a summer beach vacay” I don’t know what does.

The rest of the time we were there, I ordered a gin cocktail from every restaurant we went to that had a specialty cocktails list to see how refreshed I could really get. The answer is infinite. Infinitely refreshed. 

So, if you’re looking for a cocktail to start off your summer and make you feel like you’re on a beach, get yourself a bottle of gin, lemon juice, lime juice, fresh mint, and fresh rosemary. You can make it at home, and it’s more customizable and cheaper than ordering those specialty cocktails at bars (although those can give you ideas for other ingredients to elevate that beloved gin). It’s also great for beginner home bartenders because you can’t really go wrong with those ingredients. Some other suggestions: sprite or club soda if you want it fizzy, simple syrup if you like it sweet, grapefruit or cranberry if you want some other fruit options, and cucumbers or basil to create some slightly more savory combos. Now go get refreshed (and tipsy)!

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