It’s been quiet today, oddly quiet. And warm, oddly warm. It looks like a wonderful autumn day, with that amazing kaleidoscope of colors falling from the trees, but you better grab your shorts and sunglasses cause it’s a summer day in November. I was looking for something cool and refreshing and we had a late afternoon repast of Corned Beef and Cabbage, and it was natural to find something with Irish whiskey. So, please, join me now as we stand and make the Irish Maid.
This drink is a riff on Sam Ross’ modern classic Kentucky Maid. It takes its direction from there, but it is a very different drink. I’d love to give you a long history of it and tie it in to current events somehow, but it’s been a long day and I’ve got a headache that I hope is just a remnant from getting hit in the head while bush hogging yesterday. So, let’s jump straight in and make it.
Grab your tins and pop in 2-3 quarter inch cucumber slices, 3/4 of an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice and muddle to your hearts content. To that add 2 ounces of Irish whiskey, I chose Jameson; 1/2 an ounce of St. Germain elderflower liqueur, 2-3 drops of 18-21 Prohibition Bitters and 3/4 of an ounce of simple syrup. Add ice and shake to the beat of “Beautiful Lake Ainslie”, if that doesn’t relax you I don’t know what will. When you’ve done your part for the cause, double strain into a rocks glass over some of that artisanal ice, express a lemon peel over the drink and garnish with a cucumber wheel.
Of course, this is lovely, as lovely as that lake. It is a bit sweeter than I’d planned, but not overly so. Still, I might dial the simple back to 1/2 an ounce. It is a good sipper though and that cucumber adds a freshness that is perfect for this bonus day of summer.
I’ve still got that song in my head. I had never heard it before Laura and I bought a cd of Bodhran music to have something to listen to as we drove across Ireland in an old Renault with a radio that wouldn’t always lock on to a station. We ended up listening to that one album, a lot. It was just background noise, but it was better than static. Every time we would get back in the card the cd would start again with that first track, Beautiful Lake Ainslie. It always takes me back to tramping around the wild western coast, looking for adventure, wooly cattle and the odd pub. We spent an evening in a pub way out west. I don’t recall if it was Roundstone or Clifden, but it was a small place with only one public house, and we were the only folks not speaking Gaelic, unless there was a story to be shared. It was idyllic. There were a couple of fellas there from a bit farther north talking about “the troubles” and how thankful they were for the relative peace of today. What it was like growing up never sure who to trust. Neighbors fighting each other under cover of night, bombs in the streets. It was sobering stuff, even with a pint in hand. What stuck with me was their real and true sense of remorse. The memory is a good one, but I can still hear the regret in those voices, the senseless violence still fresh in their memories.
That’s what travel does for you, it exposes you to different cultures, different experiences. It lets you see the world through others eyes, for a moment. If you are lucky that imparts a bit of empathy, a willingness to look at things from both sides, or at least to try to see the other fellas point of view, even if you disagree with them. Most importantly, it reminds you to see people as people. Like I keep in saying, there is no them, only us. We’ve got to keep that in sight. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.