This past weekend, I picked up a cute greeting card at the store that had fancy cocktail glasses on the front of it.
One was a highball glass overflowing with the ingredients for a Bloody Mary. I know you can picture it: ice cubes, tomato juice, celery stocks, lemon wedges, and vodka. It was just filled to the brim!
The other drink had the cutest little straw along with mint leaves and grapefruit. It was a shorter crystal glass. I presumed it was something like a Grapefruit Mint Vodka Spritz. (Which, by the way, is just delish! Keep reading for the recipe!)
This card that spotlighted these two drinks, and that overflowed with lively pinks, oranges, greens, and yellows, wasn’t necessarily encouraging a Sunday afternoon refreshment, but something else much more important: friendship.
The card read:
“Friends are to life what cocktails are to a brunch. They make something good so much better! So glad we’re friends.”
The card said summer to me. It was definitely the colors and the grapefruit that drew me in. But, more importantly, it reminded me that I have one last chance to get a particular friend some “summer fun” in the mail. Regrettably, we didn’t get to spend much time together this summer, so, I thought this card could serve as a what-a-bummer-we-didn’t-get-more-summer-fun-in, but also a it’s-not-too-late, we-have-a-week-left-of-summer, let’s-catch-up-nudge!
OK, OK. I’ll admit it. I worked too much this summer. If you’re in ministry, you know it really never slows down. Even in the summer, you have to be 110% intentional to make time for a break, or you simply won’t get it. Is this your experience of ministry? If you’re not in ministry, maybe it is with your own work?
When I feel I’ve missed out on something, I find it’s a real moment of docility for me. Because of this openness, this summer I was able to relearn the importance of friends and taking the time for them.
Afterall, as C.S. Lewis said: Friendship gives value to survival (The Four Loves, p. 71). I can give that an “Amen.” There are many times I’ve pushed through work and projects, for weeks on end, and after the long hall, finding myself with no work to do on an evening, and when I close the laptop, there’s an emptiness. I survived. But, so what? I call up a friend, and a-ha! There’s another who is seeking the same goal, truth, our pursuit is the same but different, and we bring the best out in the other. The “school of virtue” that friendship is supposed to be, reminds you of the more that you’re made for and the more that is to come (Ibid, p. 80). Friends are meant to reveal God’s beauty to you (Ibid, p. 89).
As I get older, it’s difficult to make friends. I reflect on this often with my spiritual directees. You really have to work at it. And, that’s alright! Because we’re made to pour ourselves out, even if we may get disappointed or hurt in the end. The reality is that we don’t always get back what we give to friendships. But, that’s because we’re not necessarily meant to. We don’t enter into a friendship because of what we “get out of it”. We enter into a friendship because God made us for communion. So, we thrive when we can connect with others. The human relationships we grow here on earth are to be a small reflection of the relationship we are meant to have with God in Heaven.
As we end the summer, similar to the cute greeting card I picked up for my friend, I don’t want to encourage a full day of drinking, but more a gathering of friends to delight in one another and the journey God has you on. However, if a cocktail happens to be included, I won’t fault you for it! And better yet, here are a few ideas (to literally bring to the table) as we’re intentional (I’m including myself in this) about gathering with friends for one last hurrah of summer. My favorite is the Roasted Peach Old Fashioned. And, oh! If you’re looking for more ideas, I also have a few mixed drink suggestions for summer nights.
- 1/4 cup Rhubarb Puree
- 6 fresh Mint leaves
- 1/2 Lime, sliced in wedges
- 2 ounces White Rum
- 2 ounces chilled Club Soda
- Rhubarb Puree, makes 2 cups
- 2 stalks Rhubarb trimmed and chopped
- 1 1/2 cups Water
- 1 cup Sugar
You’ll want to start prepping this drink by preparing your Rhubarb Puree first. So in a small pan, add your Rhubarb, water and sugar. Set your timer for 10 minutes, but cook the rhubarb until it is soft. Pour the puree into the blender and mix until it is smooth. Chill the mix until your next steps are complete.
In the bottom of a tall heavy drinking glass, combine the mint and lime wedges, using a muddler to smash them all together and release some of the mint. Add the rhubarb puree, rum and club soda and stir to combine. Cheers to you and your friends!
Grapefruit Mint Vodka Spritz
- 2 large Grapefruits, juiced
- 4 tablespoons Simple Syrup (1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water simmered together for 2 minutes and then chilled)
- 4 tablespoons fresh Mint
- 20 Raspberries
- 8 ounces chilled Vodka
Grab four tall glasses. They don’t have to be alike. Different is good. In fact, it’s great! The same goes for the friends you have gathered. How do their different gifts and personalities bring out the best in you?
OK, when you have those four tall glasses, evenly distribute the mint and raspberries.
Add the simple syrup, vodka, and ice. Top with fresh grapefruit juice and stir to combine. (I use this hand press juicer a friend gifted to me. It’s a quick and easy way to juice grapefruits, oranges, and lemons.) Serve when you’re ready. The sooner the better!
Strawberry Gin and Tonic
- 2 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
- 3 ounces Tonic Water
- 2 TB Strawberry Syrup
- 2 sprigs of Rosemary
- 1 quarter of a Lime
- 1 Strawberry
Grab your favorite whisky glass and fill it with ice, add gin, tonic water and strawberry syrup.
Add a piece of lime (you’ll want to squeeze the juice from the lime into the glass) and add the strawberry. The best part is garnishing this lovely drink with a rosemary sprig.
Roasted Peach old Fashioned
- 1 Peach sliced
- 1 Orange Rind slice
- 1 Maraschino Cherry
- 1 Sugar Cube or splash of Simple Syrup
- 2-3 dashes orange bitters
- 2 ounces bourbon
- a splash of Soda or Water, optional
Pour in the bourbon (I prefer Maker’s Mark), optional splash of soda or water, top with ice, and give it a stir. Garnish glass with an additional peach slice. Are you enjoying your friends?! Cheers to you and them!
Charred Lemon, Rosemary and Coriander Gin & Tonic
- 1 Lemon
- 2 sprigs of Rosemary
- 1/2 tsp Coriander Seed
- 1/2 cup Gin
- 1 cup Ice
- 1 1/3 cup cups Tonic Water
- pinch mixed Peppercorns
Place a cast iron fry pan or heavy non-stick pan over a high heat and allow it to get hot. Go ahead and cut the lemon into quarters and place them (side down) in the hot pan. Once the lemon is charred, turn to char the other cut edge. Now, you can remove the lemon from the pan and set it aside to cool. Grab your cocktail shaker and put the rosemary, coriander seeds and gin into it. Use a wooden spoon to lightly bash the aromatics. Divide the ice between two large round bottomed glasses. Strain the gin into your glasses. Top up with tonic water, stir briefly and add in your charred lemon quarters. Serve immediately with a small pinch of whole peppercorns.
I hope these drinks lead to time well spent with your besties. Cheers!