Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gin and Tonic. A Virgin's Tale

   Last week was a pretty difficult one dealing with my Mom's cancer diagnosis and her obsession with parking in San Francisco. Thankfully, everything now seems to be under control. She's had all her tests, and is cleared for surgery. She's got her date with the doctor booked for July 6th and is planning some sort of awesome revenge appearance at some sort of dinner dance party set for 2 weeks after the surgery. Seems she's having a feud with some friend of hers about who's sitting at what table, with whom. Something about tickets bought in advance, and my mom feels dissed.

   "Fuck 'em " she said to me on the phone (her words not mine). "We're going to that party, if I have to crawl there. Rose can sit with her fancy friends... I don't give a shit. I'll show her"

   Okay. If that's what it takes to get her through this, you go girl! I always thought laughter was the best medicine but evidently revenge really kicks ass. My mother is Italian after all, and if she wants to go swanning into some church benefit party two weeks after surgery like Michael Corleone, who am I to stop her? After all what can you say about somebody who thinks Mae Rose Prizzi is a role model?

   I got a voice mail this morning. I picked it up and it was my mom reading me the Webster's definition of feisty, (her doctor called her feisty) and she wanted to know if I thought being called feisty was an insult.

   "No", I explained. "Feisty is Shirley Mc Laine. Feisty is Betty White." She seemed happy with that definition. Plotting revenge, parsing the definition of feisty, wondering if her doctor is dating anyone. It's going to be a busy next two weeks.

   So far during the last week, there have been moments when I have just wanted to check out mentally and go for the buzz. That however, is not an option. When dealing with Fran, one must have one's wits about one, and it's important to live in the reality-based community 24/7. So when the real thing won't or can't do, I always say go for the illusion.

   Which brings me to my quest for a tall, cool Summer cocktail that refreshes without altering any reality. A drink that allows you to put your feet up while still keeping a head on your shoulders for emergency revenge parties. I decided to experiment with some of the simple syrups I've been brewing and see if I could cook up a pleasing alternative to one of Alan's favorite Summer cocktails. I figured Alan would be the perfect subject to test my skills on (after all he grew up in Westport Connecticut, total Madmen G&T territory where they're born with swizzle sticks in hand). I wanted to see if I could make a fake cocktail just as tasty as a real one.

   That brings me to my virgin G & T.

Virgin Gin and Tonic

What you need:

2 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
30 juniper berries
4 or 5 peppercorns
2 limes
tonic water
fizzy mineral water
fresh mint leaves

Here's What to Do: 

Mix together 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar.
Bring the mix to a boil and take it off the fire. Add in the juniper berries and peppercorns.
Put a lid on the sugar water mixture and let everything steep for about 1 hour.
Pour the mixture through a strainer, leave out the juniper berries and peppercorns and pour the flavored simple syrup into a clean bottle and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.

Tear a few mint leaves up, and muddle them in the bottom of a tall slender glass.
Add in 3 Tbs of the juniper simple syrup.
Add 1 Tbs of fresh lime juice
Swizzle everything together.
Add ice.
Fill the rest of the glass with a mix of 1/2 tonic water, and 1/2 mineral water.
Mix well
Squeeze a wedge of fresh lime into the mix and pop the wedge on the edge of  the glass.

   So how did it work? Pretty damn good. We had a three day heatwave in Sonoma this weekend and we were in the middle of writing this pilot we're working on. He wanted something tall and cool and refreshing. If it wasn't a work day a G&T would have been perfect. So, I made him one of these.

   "Whaddya think?"I asked him. "Is it okay?"

    "Tastes great" he said. There was a pause. "I keep expecting the buzz"


   So if you're looking for a non-alcoholic drink this Fourth of July weekend for whatever reason, you might try one of these. You won't be sorry.

   I had some doubts the other day when I posted about what we were going through on the family front here, but I was so wrong about being worried. It really helps to share these things even though it goes against all my Italian and Hollywood omerta. I want to thank all of you who've reached out to me. I really, really, really appreciate all your good thoughts and wishes for my mom's recovery. I think the fact that she's "feisty" is going to go a long way. Now if I can just keep her from hiring a hitman to take out Rose, we'll be in good shape.

   Coming up next, quick pickles for all your summer barbecues. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. May we all have that feisty spirit! A revenge party sounds like the keenest idea, as does this virgin cocktail! Thoughts with you & your mom for her surgery.

    1. yes, I'm glad she has some getting even to look forward to. Whatever gets her through this.

  2. Oh yes. The perfect cocktail to numb the mind and relax the body. Your mother sounds absolutely lovely, but I find feisty women highly intoxicating and lovable...who doesn't?

    1. yes, she is quite the character.. I also think it probably runs in the family from stories I've heard

  3. I had to look up the Webster definition of 'fiesty'! Have been reading your blog for a short while now, and have enjoyed your writing and pictures.

    1. Thanks so much.. I was surprised she actually went to the trouble of looking it up. I had to convince her that it was a compliment

  4. Your mother sounds like a spirited lady, much like my mom, only she is an English teacher brought up in a non-swearing household, so I've never heard her use the "F" word :-). I just loved your post and wish your mom all th best!

    1. thanks so much for your good wishes..my mom besides being feisty is also salty.

  5. You're a Good Writer

    All The Best for Your Mom


  6. This one is bookmarked and on my definitely have to try list! Love the taste of G&T and don't mind the buzz in the evening, but it'd be great to have one in the afternoon without having to take a nap afterwards!

  7. fiesty, I love it!! love that she says fuck, my mom is sooooo proper, LOL!! loving this virgin G&T!!

  8. I think our mothers are related. God help us! But their fiestiness does keep them alive and us reaching for the bottle. Good thing for this recipe- I love G&T's always my go to but there are times I need to keep my wits about me. Hope your mom is doing well after her surgery, and that she does indeed give that Rose a good show!



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