When Sarah, Vicky, and I started Whisk, one of the projects we were most excited about was connecting our member blogs with Wisconsin-based artisan producers – providing opportunities for our members to expand their work and challenge themselves with new projects, and providing opportunities for local companies to showcase their products and grow their businesses. We’ve loved watching this part of our organization grow, and we each personally have loved getting to know local businesses and working with their products.
I am incredibly excited to be working with Top Note Tonics, out of Milwaukee. I generally hesitate to share recipes here that require specific products, but Top Note’s concept – boldly-flavored, non-alcoholic tonic concentrates made from whole botanicals and cane sugar – was a hard one to pass up, especially given how much I miss the pre-Aldo fun we used to have with testing and tweaking new cocktail recipes. I was excited about the potential for use in classic gin and tonics or other similar drinks, but I was also interested to see if they could be used in place of bitter liqueurs like Campari or Aperol, and for their potential as non-alcoholic apertifs that don’t just rely on sweetness, like most non-alcoholic mixed drinks tend to do. They sent samples of all five concentrates – four with a tonic-like bitter profile (Bitter Lemon, Bitter Orange, Gentian Lime, and Indian Tonic) and one Ginger Beer concentrate. I tasted each on their own and got to work putting together a recipe testing plan (which I’ve learned is very important when it comes to cocktail testing, unless you’re willing to let things get away from you a bit.)
Today it’s a little difficult to look at these photos I took last week, since on both Monday and Tuesday mornings this week we woke up to a layer of snow on the ground. On Tuesday, it didn’t even melt before the day was over. It was a harsh reminder of how unsure we should be about the season ahead of us. But we wait, patiently, knowing that nothing is certain, trying to keep the faith that days will come again when everything will look like this:
Fairly often, things wiggle their way into my life and hang around for a while. Sometimes it’s a craving that won’t quit, or an activity that becomes a routine, or an idea or flavor or experience I become a little fixated on. I go through phases with foods I want to eat all the time, I get addicted to TV shows, I listen to albums non-stop, I wear certain outfits whenever they’re clean, and there’s usually some cocktail or other that I’m ordering. These things stick around for a while until something – a change in the weather, a random craving, or a need for change – steers me elsewhere.
And right now, it’s this humble little honey gimlet.
I realized recently that this move to Madison is really only the second time in my life that I’ve had a significant move. The first was moving to California for college. I’ve moved up and down to Oregon a few times, but always for a defined period of time, and even the first few times it was with someone who already knew the lay of the land. College was a pretty easy transition, complete with a summer camp-like few weeks of orientation and activities, but this is an entirely different beast. We have little idea of where even the simplest things are in town, and the list of administrative tasks to take care of (e.g. new driver’s licenses) is about a mile long. We sold or otherwise disposed of most of our household items when we left California last summer, meaning we’re starting almost from scratch in a lot of ways, and after five days of driving across the country we were left with mountains of boxes to unpack and an ever-changing collection of shopping lists and errands to run.
It’s been a little exhausting.
More than a little. Read more
We’ve been in Vienna for over a week now, the longest we’ve been anywhere since we left Claremont last July. Being here for five weeks has meant an entirely different rhythm of travel, one that feels a lot more comfortable as we’ve gotten more and more exhausted over the last ten months. We keep saying that it’s 50% normal travel – venturing out into the city to see and do things – and 50% normal life – grocery shopping and cooking, slow mornings and early nights, and lots of time at our computers catching up on work and life and getting things done.
On our second night here we cooked dinner for ourselves, made a cocktail, and watched a DVD on the television in our apartment’s living room. It really set in, then, that we’d get to have a fairly domestic little experience while we’re here.