It is the snow that gets me in the end. Light confetti starts to waft around the air, each snowflake growing larger and more intense, until the snow covers everything white and hides the ugliness of a grey winter. The trees, completely bare of their lush foliage, are dusted like icing sugar and their spiny bonelike branches reach up like sharp white talons. Our cat Harry, sits in the make shift bird feeder on our deck, his bum on ice, mesmerized by the falling snow. His jet-black fur is sprinkled white in minutes, and now he looks like an old gray man. The first snowfall of the season puts everyone in a good mood. It seems to soften everything, including my usual contempt for the cold. A winter without snow will simply never be the same.
As winter settles in, my cocktail mixing changes up to warmer, richer flavors like Bourbon. There is nothing quite like a perfectly blended cocktail on a cold, snowy evening. Infused syrups of orange, lime, amber and sepia line the inside of my fridge door, in small Mason jars. On any given winter day, there are at least four simple syrups standing at the ready… blood orange, mint, ginger and a spice concoction of juniper and sumac ready to transform the cocktail shaker. A quintessential, vintage winter cocktail and true favorite is an Old Fashioned. I love the care taken to prepare each drink…the mashing of the crimson peel and the sugar cube, the pouring of the thick spicy scented bourbon over a snowball-sized ice cube. In winter, the arrival of blood oranges, add a particularly strong hit of sweet orange scent to the drink and its vibrant scarlet color tints the drink amber.
2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
1 sugar cube
few dashes orange bitters
1 blood orange (juice and thinly cut piece of rind)
Ball of ice or cubes
In a whiskey glass, muddle together a few drops of bitters with the sugar cube and blood orange rind. Add the blood orange juice and muddle to combine. Add the bourbon and ice and stir to combine. Add a wedge of blood orange and allow the ice to melt just slightly before drinking.