I find that a nice stroll before dinner is just the thing to get the blood pumping and stimulate the appetite. That sounds like something out of a Dickens novel, said in an offhand way by a fellow in a waistcoat, as he lights his pipe. I have a waistcoat and a pipe but I don’t have Charley writing my lines, so I just go for a walk most evenings. To be fair, in Summer I usually walk a couple of miles before work to avoid the heat, but this time of year I go for my stroll in the dark, flashlight handy in case of traffic. I love the way things look after the sun sets, the stars in the sky and the way the moon turns everything a pale silver. In honor of that subtle magical change, won’t you join me as we stand and make the Moonlight Cocktail.
This drink was created by Gary “gaz” Regan, the guy who created the orange bitters. He first shared this one in his San Francisco Chronicle column “The Cocktailian” back in 2007, so it is a relatively young drink. The name comes from it’s purplish color that gaz said matched the moon on the evening he first created this drink. It is a riff on the classic Aviation with its signature creme de violettes, a drink that I have had a love/hate relationship with. That violet liqueur is amazing, but not subtle, it can easily shift from delightful into overpowering with no middle ground. There is a fine line between an enticing floral bouquet and Grandma’s flower soap, only to be used by company. Creme de violettes is wonderful, but even one drop too much and you might as well dry your hands on the decorative towels as well.
Grab your tins ands pop in 1 1/2 ounces of gin, I went with New Amsterdam; 3/4 of an ounce of triple sec or Cointreau, 1/2 an ounce of Creme De Violettes, I chose Rothman and Winter, and 1/4 ounce each of fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice. Add ice and give it a good shake to the beat of Neko Case singing “I Wish I Was the Moon Tonight“, cause I am also so tired and who would not want to see things from the moon’s perspective? Double strain into a champagne flute and garnish with one of those long lemon peels.
That works, just fine. I am not surprised, gaz Regan was a cocktail legend and his drinks tend to be amazing. I was extra carful to not overpour the Violettes, so this turned out with the perfect amount of floral top note, no grandma’s soap at all. On one level this is just an Aviation with the cherry liqueur swapped out for orange liqueur and the addition of a little lime juice, but those subtle changes make a more accessible drink. The floral notes from the violets just seem to resonate with the orange in the same way that they create tension with the cherry. This is an excellent variation on the classic and isn’t it pretty? I love that grey.
Obviously, the drink choice tonight was inspired by the gorgeous nearly full moon and the silvery light that guided my steps as I took my waistcoatless preprandial stroll. We introduced the boy to Apollo 13 over the weekend and the National Geographic documentary, For All Mankind, so he’s pretty enamored with the moon these days. I get it, I have always loved and felt a special affinity for the moon. Life is just different in the moonlight, more magical, not quite as real. There is nothing wrong with that. I like looking up and seeing mysteries, feeling that wonder and a bit of nostalgia. The moon has always been a source of inspiration or is it sinspiration, as my typo wanted it to be? The moon also represents the impossible made possible. When you feel down about what we can accomplish as a country or a people, don’t forget that when we set our minds to it and work together, we can do anything, even go for a stroll on the moon. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.