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The Vacation Cocktail

July 20, 2018

Today is the last day of Vacation Week. It’s our last full day in Vermont, and I’m taking the kids to Ben & Jerry’s. That’s about as touristy as I get these days. But it’s pretty touristy.

I was able to sneak a trip into Vermont Spirits and taste their whey based vodka, their barrel aged gin, and No. 14 Maple Spirit which is distilled from 100% maple. That last one was my favorite, but the aromatic complexity of their gin is nothing to sneeze at.

However, when I think about Vacation Week, I wanted to talk about vacation in general. Even using the idea of vacation as a metaphor to other things entirely, like cooking. Today’s cocktail post has nothing to do with Vermont.

More than anything, it probably has to do with the Florida Keys.

That was where my family would vacation when I was young, but old enough to really create indelible memories. We would sail our boat from key to key and sleep overnight in marinas down the coast.

It’s like a more bougie version of taking your RV to trailer parks along the highway.

Sometime we would tie up to nice places. Other times they were a bit rough around the edges. But they almost all had bars. One in particular stands out in my mind, because during happy hour, the bar would offer free hors d’oeuvres.

My parents would drink, and these bar snacks would be my dinner. Just so long as they kept handing me quarters for the Pac Man machine, they could hang out at the bar as long as they wanted.

But only on rare and special occasions would I get a virgin pina colada or strawberry daiquiri. Man, those were the best. Blended, with ice. Sweet and fruity. With large pieces of fruit hanging off the rim.

More than anything else, these frozen drinks make me think of vacation.

Years and years ago, I wrote a bit about this in Cocktail Confession Number One. But these are drinks I’ve simply never been able to recreate at home. The blenders I’ve owned have always been woefully deficient at crushing ice to the right texture. I assume part of the problem is the ice itself. But that’s another issue.

And, even if I did have the perfect blender, making these drinks is a noisy, messy, and time consuming affair. This is work that’s best left to the professionals.

Ideally those with machines specifically designed for the task.

This is why I’m still delighted after learning that Mexican Radio has a frozen blood orange margarita on the menu, which comes out of one of those marvelous machines.

Going into a random cocktail bar, and asking them to whip you up a blender drink, is almost as obnoxious as asking for a cocktail that requires the vigorous shaking of egg whites. Only recently did I discover there is actually a machine to help bartenders properly shake drinks like the dreaded Ramos Gin Fizz.

It’s a helluva drink. And maybe to someone, that’s a vacation in a glass. I would expect that people will have many different experiences that will inform their perspectives on this. So, what cocktail makes you think of being at peace and far away from your everyday concerns?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. llcwine permalink
    July 20, 2018 9:02 am

    My mother used to make the best Pina Coladas…she claims she learned from a bartender in Mexico. It had the usual, cream of coconut, pineapple juice, rum…but it also had crushed pineapple in it and Maraschino Liqueur. a slice of fresh pineapple and a cherry to garnish. She would make batches of them when my folks were entertaining important guests…and luckily, I was close enough to legally drink…that the guests would include me (drinking age was 18 back then), since I helped do the grilling and preparations….Mom loves her gadgets and actually got an ice crusher machine just for these drinks as it made less work for the blender than whole ice cubes to be crushed… I miss those…maybe the next time I visit her I’ll try to make them!

  2. July 20, 2018 11:37 am

    Margarita, on the rocks. No salt.

  3. MikeH permalink
    July 24, 2018 1:58 pm

    Just got back from Cape Cod. My cocktail of choice after a hot day at the beach is a double shot of Evan Williams chased by an ice cold PBR.


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