I have a place that I like to go and remember the special moments of my life. I call it “the liquor cabinet.”
All of my liquor (NOT the wine and beer) sits on top of my refrigerator. I know I read somewhere that you should never store your liquor on top of the fridge (I don’t remember why. Maybe the heat?), but I really have no other place in my sweet, cozy home. Plus this positioning definitely keeps it out of the reach of most children and pets. A couple of cats barging full-tilt through the house have laid waste to a lot more than my scotch, but that’s my fault. What’s the point of having nice things if you never use them? I suppose they don’t get broken that way.
Precocious cats are a danger to fine china.
Each time I clamber up on my little stepladder to pull down my scotch for my weekly shot, I am assailed by memories of the past.
Steph went through a phase where her weekly cocktail was the vodka martini. (Let’s keep the groans to a minimum. She had an unfortunate experience with gin as a teenager and never recovered to embrace the classic gin martini.) We keep a bottle of vodka in the freezer and use only that for the martini. I fill the bottom of the cap of the vermouth bottle (extra-dry, please) with the vermouth and then pour it directly into the glass. A swirl around the entirety of the cone to coat the glass and then dump any remaining into the sink. Fill the glass with one to two ounces of vodka (depending on the harshness of the week) and then drop in one to three olives or pickled tomatoes speared onto a swizzle stick into the drink. Sit and sip. As I recall, after one of these, Steph would just sit. I felt so like June Cleaver fixing Ward his evening cocktail.
Grammy Loel (Steph’s maternal grandmother) visited over Christmas and New Year’s for the turn of the millenium. (I say this for 1999-2000 just like most of the people in the world. I really don’t care about the whole debate between this date and the one for 2000-2001. Chill out. It’s all over already.)
Anyway, since Grammy was coming up for the holidays, we asked her if she’d like us to buy her something special to drink for the celebration. Therefore, we have a bottle of amaretto, still mostly full.
In 1999, we spent a week in France travelling on the Canal-du-Midi. Our friend Lynda’s 50th birthday celebration carried us over the Atlantic and dropped us on a lazy canal, complete with locks to navigate (just enough work to make you feel like you deserved that bottle of wine).
On our way back to Paris (a trip which took another two weeks as we traveled to Barcelona and then up the west coast of France), we stopped at a small bed and breakfast outside Tourouve. The older couple who ran the place took pity on us and served us dinner as well as breakfast since there were no restaurants near the location. I think they also sensed the weariness pervading our bodies.
This simple dinner is one of my favorite gastronomic experiences of all time. We started with sauteed mushrooms topped with a small square of puff pastry. The husband harvested the mushrooms from the hills that very day and Steph “ooohed” and “aaaahed” about the fresh earthy flavor. For the main course, a dish they called “Swiss Steak,” which turned out to be a Rosti, a classic dish much like a large potato pancake with ham and topped with a fried egg. As I dislike eggs, I picked around the middle and blamed my lack of appetite on a cold I had been fighting since we got to France. (I was just lying a little! I really had gotten a cold. I was just, you know, almost over it.)
The old man stared at me for a moment and then took off for the kitchen, re-emerging with an unlabeled bottle filled with an amber liquid. He filled shot glasses and plopped them down in front of each of us. “This will cure you.” He stated in French and the other fellow staying at the inn translated for the stupid American. I stared at the glass and then figured that if there was anything deadly in it, the alcohol would have killed it. I sipped and then slurped down that shot of homemade calvados with relish. Our hostess followed our digestif with a real tarte tatin made with the same calvados from fresh apples plucked from the tree that day.
I definitely felt healthier.
So, a bottle of calvados from Charles de Gaulle airport sits atop my refrigerator along with two others I bought last year to compare. That trip also stored a bottle of cognac and one of Poire William, a pear brandy that could be likened to some sort of fuel, in our “cabinet.”
We broke out the Poire William during our “staycation honeymoon” with a pear champagne cocktail. Drop a tablespoon of poire william in the bottom of a champagne flute. Place a slice of pear into the glass and fill to the rim with sparkling wine. Don’t drop the pear in after the wine or that yummy champagne explodes out of the top of the glass and fizzes all over your counter. Sticky! Sit down to drink because by the end, you can’t feel your legs anymore.
Being the general recycle bin for most of our family, you will find bottles of alcohol magically appearing in our collection whenever anyone moves. For example, Grappa, Kahlua and Vermouth showed up when Jack, my mother-in-law’s companion, moved to Asheville, North Carolina a few years ago.
We are pretty darn good hostesses, so there is a bottle of Kamora (a coffee liquer similar to Kahlua) we bought when our friend Emil visited, three bottles of port (each half-empty) we received as hostess gifts and a bottle of gin we keep around for our friend MB who ONLY drinks gin martinis.
In the realm of the unusual, we have two bottles of Godiva chocolate liqueur, a full bottle of Hypnotic (I pronounce it “hypnotique.” Per the website, it’s an exquisite blend of Pure Cognac, Premium Vodka and Natural Tropical Fruit Juices), two bottles of sake and one bottle of a stone pine liqueur which tastes like a pine forest with a kick. Bottles of Cassis, Remy Red, and (horror of horrors for my sweet honey-bunny) citron vodka are reminders of our first year in our current abode when I was in love with pink drinks. Throughout the summer, a cosmopolitan graced my hand once a week, followed by club soda and Remy Red during autumn and then on to Kir Royales (sparkling wine with a splash of cassis) for the holidays.
Just so you know, I prefer prosecco for my kir royales and Veuve Cliquot for my straight champagne drinking. In case you were wondering…. Hint, hint, hint.
I walk down Memory Lane by staring at the top of my refrigerator. Each bottle holds a memory as sweet and dear to me as the liquor inside. And the best part is, when the liquor disappears, I use the bottles for homemade vinegar and syrups. (Lesbian Law #2: Reduce, reuse, recycle.)
Unless they have a screw cap. There’s no romance in a screw cap.
Don’t forget Lesbian Law#1: Never Underestimate the Power of a Lesbian Housewyfe.
I’m going to have a cocktail.
Our liquor cabinet grew while we had the liquor store (from 2007 to 2012) and shrank when we made the move to North Carolina. Currently, all of our wine and liquor still sits in boxes, some even supporting the desk where I sit and write each day. I did manage to get over to the ABC (that’s the name of the state-controlled liquor stores in North Carolina) and find some decent scotch, as you can see from the picture above.
Oh, and I found romance in a screw cap once we started the liquor store.
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