Overrated or Underutilized?
My fellow blogger, and a very nice person in every sense, Melanie Warner Spencer, last week broached the conversation about “that thing” in her weekly column, Bon Vivant, here at MyNewOrleans.com. Both of our efforts first see light of day in your inbox every Wednesday. Her topic was Lenten self-sacrifice and abstinence.
I admire her for bringing up the subject that, by this time, has either gone the way of New Year’s Resolutions, or has thrown us into such a foul mood that Christian temperance and patience have left the room.
In our younger days we were expected to make contributions for the support of “the Missions,” whatever the hell those were, or renounce candy as a Lenten offering to atone for our bad deeds – whatever those might have been for an 11-year old. Either way, the nuns influenced us for life, which I guess was and is the point of being a nun. Let’s leave it at that.
Lenten sacrifice, nevertheless, comes up at this season every year and for some of those years we are resolute and some other of those years, not so much. Forgive us, Lord, for we are flesh and weak.
Far be it from me to be any more of a bad influence in your lives than your other friends who are well-intentioned but maybe misguided, or unfocused on what you want. I want to support whatever pursuit you choose to follow. From my lips to your ears: go forward and be strong.
For those brave and humble sinners, abstaining from alcohol seems to be a popular resolution. No doubt it seemed like a good idea at the time of commitment. And no doubt you were most sincere, thinking that 1) Sure, I can do this. No problem. 2) I should do this and give the body a cleansing rest after the holidays and Carnival. 3) Maybe I could drop a few pounds along the way which would be a nice by-product of the effort. Or 4) my friends are ready to travel down this path and I don’t want to be the only one in the group slurping martinis.
Whatever the reason, abstaining from alcohol is a popular activity during the early days of Lent and we applaud such devotion to self and church. Go for it. I hasten to add that due to the professional nature of what I do for a living I won’t be following in your footsteps, but I am with you in spirit all the way. And I really did not mean tor that to sound so hollow.
To prove it, let me share with you the recipes for a few cocktails, “mocktails” if you will, which are delicious and contain a lot of ingredients you like, with only one of any consequence omitted. Yes, there is no alcohol component to these dandy concoctions. In fact, if you are not avoiding alcohol just to be a show-off, no one need anyone ever know about the missing ingredient.
Cucumber and Mint Fauxjito
- 6 thin slices of English cucumber, plus 1 long, thin slice for garnish
- 6 large mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
- 2 ounces fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce agave
- 4 ounces cold club soda
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber with the mint leaves. Add the lime juice and agave and fill with ice; shake well. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Add the club soda; stir once. Garnish with the cucumber slice and mint sprig.
Since we are seeing so many excellent Louisiana strawberries right now, here are two drinks that take full advantage of one of our favorite home-grown products:
Strawberry and Ginger Cooler
- 2 large strawberries, sliced, plus 1 strawberry half
- 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped
- 1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
- 2 ounces fresh orange juice
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- 2 ounces chilled ginger beer
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberry slices with the chopped ginger and Simple Syrup. Add ice and the orange and lime juices and shake well. Double strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Stir in the ginger beer and garnish with the strawberry half.
- 2 large strawberries
- 3 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 ounces water
- 1 1/2 ounces Simple Syrup
- 2 lemon wedges
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberries. Add ice and the lemon juice, water and Simple Syrup. Shake well and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Garnish with the lemon wedges.
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 dashes of hot sauce
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Dash of olive brine from a jar of green olives
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
In a pitcher, combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Stir well and pour into chilled shot glasses.
The added bonus to these mocktails is that when Lent is over – Easter is March 27, only 32 days away – you can still enjoy these drinks by adding a little gin, vodka, or rum, or if Lent has been particularly stressful with your alcohol sacrifice, all three spirits in one drink are fine.
Thanks to Food & Wine online for the assistance with the recipes.
Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM, streamed at www.wgso.com.