There is no way I will spend time at (or in) a swimming pool without a tasty beverage in my left hand. Left hand because when I was younger the group of friends I spent time with required beverages to be held left-handed. A beverage in your right hand required pounding said beverage as a punishment for violating the scared left hand only rule. But I digress . . .
My friend MP, whom I’ve known for half her life, turned 50 June 9. She is a pool goddess. If it’s summer, that English (Language Arts) teacher is sunning and funning the day away. Why not combine the milestone birthday with her favorite summer activity? Which meant we also got to combine one of my favorite activities – day drinking – with her party. Saturday perfection.
Pool drinking requires some pre-planning. Obviously no glass bottles. Breaking one of those bastards would ruin a party in a heartbeat. No red wine. Cool chlorinated water, 90-degree sun, and a lounge chair is really no place for a velvety Cabernet Sauvignon. Really pool beverages mean light, cold, refreshing, and because it’s a daylong event, low alcohol content.
So we hit the liquor warehouse. I heart liquor warehouses; I can spend hours there. But that’s another post.
Ever been so confused about what glass to use for a drink that you just don't have a drink? Yeah, neither have I. Maybe someone has been though . . .
There are bunches of different types of glasses for alcohol. It isn't so much important that you know them all or that you even care, but it's fun information to have. This is a brief (here's hoping) glance at many different types of alcohol glassware. I need to admit up front that I don't own a brandy snifter or a Nick & Nora glass or a hurricane glass . . . you know what? I think I will just stop right there on that list and focus on what I do have.
Many people just don't understand that the mixers used for drinks are just as important, if not more so, than the spirit used. An icky sweet ginger beer or sour tonic will ruin your drink and create a tear in the fabric in time.
Here at Highball Hijinks, we are all about trying to create quality experiences. I would rather have one fantastic G & T than a pitcher full of swill that attempts to pass for it.
One mixer I use often is ginger beer. I enjoy Moscow Mules, London Mules, Berry Mules, and other mules in general. I am a mule gal. My one true rule for ginger beer is that somewhere in the list of ingredients on the bottle/can, it MUST say ginger in some form be it extract, ginger root infusion, or ginger root. It has to have actual ginger in it. I also won't buy anything ever at all at any time that has HFCS in it. Just say no.
As you can see in the picture, I went a little nuts bringing together different ginger beers for this taste test. There are so many from which to choose; it can be sort of intimidating, but I was totally set on forcing my testers to run the ginger beer gauntlet. And run it they did. Three of my kiddies and I spent a delightful afternoon smelling, tasting, and swishing these ginger beers. The opinions are solely ours. If there's a brand we didn't particularly love, but you do, then that's great. You do you. When we say a ginger beer is spicy, we don't mean it's spicy hot; there's just a lot of spice affecting the taste.
Back in the day when I was a novice drinker, Coors came out with a "refreshing citrus beverage" called Zima. I vividly recall sitting on the deck with my father drinking a Zima spiked with cinnamon schnapps. It was the 90s, be nice.
In 2017, Zima was re-released. I tried quite hard to get my hands on some, just to wax rhapsodic about my youth which is slipping away at an alarming rate. I digress. I did not manage to find any. My memories of my pops and me sharing a quiet afternoon sipping ice cold cinnamon Zima would go forever as just that: memories. However, the other day in the liquor store I spotted Zima in the cooler. Could this be true? Was it a mirage or wishful thinking? NO! Lo and behold, Zima was there on the shelf, just waiting for my arrival and subsequent rush of father/daughter memories. I was the proud owner of six bottles of the elusive elixir of my youth. Two shooters of cinnamon whatnot and I was headed home with my spoils.
I was genuinely worried that I had romanticized this whole thing in my head. It wouldn't be the first time I had done so. Was it really quite as delightfully refreshing as I recall? It was all a horrific possibility.
I am not a fan of feet. They're gross. Looking at them. That's gross. Touching them. Gross. So I'm getting a pedicure. Makes sense, right?
But I have wine.
A small Asian man with a cough forecasting the onset of tuberculosis is filing my toenails. Peering at them through tortoise shell cheaters while wheezing what I'm sure will be one of his last breaths.
It's fucking skeeving me out. The whole combination is gross. A: feet. B: phlegmy old dude. 3: touching. A lot of it.
Last February (2017) in the midst of one of the most emotional teaching years I have ever experienced, the district put out a retirement incentive designed to rid the district of the crotchety, dinosaur teachers like me. February is universally a shitty month for teachers. The school year is crawling by and seems as though it is an endless abyss of need that cannot possibly be sated. That February was no different. As I was emotionally bereft due to the loss of a good friend and physically weakened thanks to a bout of pneumonia, I thought, "Why not?" Because when your life is upended, that is the exact time to make decisions regarding the rest of it.
I was emotionally unprepared for the realities of giving up everything I have ever known since I was three. Of course, I have been reminded that I am usually emotionally unprepared for most things that happen to me. However, I have never been in the private sector; I have always been in school either as a student or a teacher. I am finding I am ill-equipped for life outside of teaching, but I didn't know that then.
Long story short (too late), I am now retired. Thanks to some fun we already had planned, Poor Bastard and I have traveled and had some adventures, mostly dealing with wineries, distilleries, restaurants, and breweries. All of which I have posted to social media, which makes me unpopular with my friends and family, most of whom are teachers. I must admit my liver has taken a pounding over the summer as I mired in the muck that was my regret. However, now it is taking a pounding just because. Shut up, Liver. You are fine.
Yesterday, a friend told me that she was tired of seeing my posts of dining and drinking during school hours and would appreciate seeing more of the mundane tasks of my new life. I didn't see any reason not to acquiesce, so here is a glimpse into the private day-to-day goings on of my post-teaching experience.
We have been friends for more years than we haven't. Perhaps because of that or simply because we both have jobs/family that seem to encourage escape, we often bond over an ounce or so of liquid magic. Through these experiences, we have discovered the joys that can come with a well-crafted cocktail, quality beer, and excellent wine. It's about quality for us, and we want to share that with you.