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Drinking Out of Season

January 20, 2012

I still don’t have a good handle on winter. Recently I bundled up and went for a walk to collect some locally roasted Ethiopian Sidamo beans. It was a cold day, but I was dressed warmly.

Upon stepping into the coffee shop I was suddenly overwhelmed by the heat of it all, and I couldn’t shed my outer layers fast enough. Had someone offered me an iced coffee, I would have gladly used it to help cool down. I might have even started rubbing the ice on my arms.

But that is still the exception and not the rule, because it’s cold here. And really it doesn’t help that Mrs. Fussy and I have a little game we play about who is going to be the first one to crack and turn up the heat. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not going to be me (one of us is hearty and the other one is just plain old stubborn).

Naturally, this makes warming drinks even that more appealing. So what was I doing last night with a fizzy cocktail full of ice?

It’s a long story.

Cocktails occasionally emerge based on what happens to be around. Look at Jamaican rum and coconut water or the mint julep. Well, I had two unusual ingredients cluttering up the house, and it was high time to find a use for them.

The stranger of them is a large bottle of mass-produced vodka. Now, before you get started, I don’t really drink vodka much. I like my spirits to have a bit more character than this clear and highly refined hooch. Yes, I purchased this 1.75L bottle of my own free will. But I only intended to use about an ounce of it to preserve a batch of homemade grenadine.

My problem is that I have a mental block against buying small quantities of things when there is a significant cost savings to going large.

For the record, I have yet to make the grenadine.

Less strange are the bottles of Reed’s Ginger Beer. I picked some up in Pennsylvania, with the idea of mixing them with rye. And that I did. Once. My in-laws weren’t going to drink this spicy soda, so it made the long trip back to Albany. And in the back of the fridge it sat.

Cocktail scholars probably already know where this is going. Because when you mix vodka with ginger beer, you are 90% of the way to a Moscow Mule. The only thing missing is the lime.

You cannot omit the lime.

So, yes. I did actually have to buy an additional ingredient so I could drink this cocktail classic in the middle of an Albany January. And it was delicious. I didn’t even need to get bundled up to drink the damn thing.

In many ways it is like my beloved Rickey. But instead of the spirit giving the drink its flavor and kick, vodka’s role in the Mule is purely kick. Of course, it’s a good bit sweeter too.

It’s amusing to think back to a day when vodka was widely despised by the American drinking public. But it was. And if you are one of those people who are glad to have your choice from hundreds of different vodkas on the shelves, you have the Moscow Mule to thank for the spirit’s popularity.

This drink is easy to make.

2 ounces of vodka
½ ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice
4-6 ounces of ginger beer

The only trick is to make sure you drop the empty shell of the lime into the glass. You may also want to give the drink the slightest stir, just to make sure it’s mixed. However, the bubbles will do most of the work for you.

There’s a joke in there somewhere about stubbornness as Mrs. Fussy and I sat around the table after the kids were in bed, enjoying our chilly cocktails inside our chilly house. She’s the hearty one. Guess which one I am.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2012 11:06 am

    The other thing you can do with that vodka, peel a bunch of fresh ginger, stuff it in a jar and cover with vodka. In the fridge it will last forever. My wife’s favorite new cocktail is fresh orange juice, cognac, cointreau and a bit of meyer lemon juice. Eh too general, 1 1/2 oz. cognac, 1 oz. cointreau, 1 1/2 oz. fresh orange juice (blood orange if available) and about 1/2 oz meyer lemon juice. Shake with ice and enjoy straight up. It’s really pretty good

  2. James permalink
    January 20, 2012 6:43 pm

    You should try getting rid of some of that vodka by using it to brew up some of your Sidamo. Grind 30g of beans as you would for French press using your trusty burr grinder. Then, steep the coffee in ~250mL of vodka for about an hour. Finish by filtering through a coffee filter or do the whole thing in your French press and then plunge. Use the result just as you would espresso and mix it with milk (steamed or iced) 1:2 for something like a cappuccino or 1:5 for something more latte-like. Blows things like Kahlua and VanGogh Espresso Vodka out of the water.

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