4.17.2012

Turning 30 with Cocktails

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Last night, I sat down and composed a great post about my birthday weekend. It was insightful and funny, and took me longer than usual to write. I actually had to take a break from writing and upon my return, I noticed a blank screen. My text, my photos were gone. Poof!

So, here I go again... with a different take, because I can't recall any of my witty comments that were, no doubt, induced by the delicious gimlet I had been sipping on.

My first job out of college was at a senior center. Not the kind of place where old people are propped up and sit in front of windows. It was an active community center, where oldies came to work out,  take fun classes and be grouchy with their friends. And despite being the youngest person there, I fit right in. I'd work out in the gym after hours, showing everyone up with my super fast treadmill speed of 6 mph. I enjoyed visiting the library, and finding deals on the .25 cents shelf. When I'd walk the halls, Wilco's "When You Wake Up Feeling Old" would be running through my head. During my three years there, that song became my anthem, in a very positive way. You see, I was jealous of these seniors. They had all this free time to pursue hobbies, take long lunches and just hang out. And even though I got on well with them, and wanted to be like them, I couldn't picture myself their age. At 22, 30 seemed old, sometimes, if I tried, I could kind of visualize 40, but nothing beyond that.

Now, at 30, I still have a hard time picturing myself past 40. And it's not because I have this young nature I can't get past. I know people, old people, who act like they haven't aged. Who say they feel as young as when they were 20. That's not me. I feel myself aging. Not in a horrible, saggy skin kind of way. But, I definitely notice the effects of time on my thought process, my temper, and my ability to relate to people. I have grown much more patient with the people that matter to me. And I have grown much less patient with everything else. I feel comfortable redefining traditions and ways of living my life based on what I'd like to spend my time doing. I feel that I've made a lot of progress in this area, and get frustrated when I'm asked to compromise. I am enjoying a new quietness I have gained during the last year, something I can't necessarily explain, but I know is there.

This past weekend was filled with friends, cocktails and amazing presents (check out my pretty cake stand and custom-made knife above!), but also an eerie calm. I am getting older.

But enough of all this reflection, obviously the result of the Internet stealing my original post, and making it vanish. Let's get to the cocktail party! There was a menu. First, there was a taste test, then there was a menu, and three cocktails made the list -- Whiskey Daisy, Wild Thing and the Basil Vodka Gimlet. I made syrups, the husband spent an evening juicing limes and lemons, we asked a friend to wear a suit and play bartender -- we were ready to roll.

This was probably the most enjoyable party we've hosted. First, having a bartender is pretty awesome. Especially if you can find an awesome person to play the role. Second, I got to see friends I've missed. And lastly, I didn't get sick! Maybe now that I'm so mature, hangovers are a thing of the past. But probably not.
Cocktail recipe cards for guests to take home and remember me throughout the year.
Above: The amateurs posing behind the bar, waiting for the professional, (volunteer) bartender to arrive.

Below: The only official photo from the party! The ladies enjoying their Whiskey Daisies. The bartender in the background, inspecting the glassware.
The cocktail of the night -- Basil Vodka Gimlet, recipe below.
Above: New hat! Below: New sweet bike! If I wasn't a play-it-safe chicken, I could wear my new hat on bike rides. But I prefer a helmet.
And this is the cutest little kitchen timer. Hello 30.

Basil Vodka Gimlet
2 oz vodka
½ oz lime juice
½ oz basil lemon syrup
Basil or lemon peel garnish
Combine in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled glass.
Basil Lemon Syrup
4 cups packed fresh basil sprigs
(top 4 inches; from a 1/2-pound bunch)
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
9 (4- by 1-inch) strips lemon zest
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let stand at room temperature, covered, 1 hour, then transfer to an airtight container and chill until cold, about 1 hour. Strain syrup thorough a sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids.

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