It is July. The schools have exhaled the last whirlwind of students and papers and chalk dust and are enjoying their few weeks of rest before the next invasion. (The students are pretty happy, too.) The sun takes its time in setting, so that by the time we get home from work we do not feel entirely robbed of a day; there are a few hours yet in which to linger on the porch with a friend and a cold drink before retreating to bed.
For the last several weeks an unopened bottle of vanilla vodka has been staring at me from the beverage rack in our kitchen. I “inherited” it from my aunt’s kitchen after she passed away, and I associate it with the happy summer I spent with her. Often after a long day at our respective workplaces, we would come home to make dinner together. We had a short list of favorite beverages to enjoy as we cooked and unwound: the classic gin and tonic, or a liquid Orangesicle – orange juice, vanilla vodka, and crushed ice.
As this 5th of July holiday approached, my housemates and I planned to throw a cookout. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to use the vanilla vodka -- butI realized that spiked orange juice might not exactly complement burgers and Doritos. I also wanted to challenge myself to not use someone else’s recipe, but rather to simply create something that seemed good to me. I went to IKEA on the morning of the 5th with one of my housemates to stock up on candles, napkins, etc, and as we strolled to the checkout we made a fortuitous discovery: a special on peach sparkling cider! I knew immediately that peach was the answer. We grabbed 3 bottles, paid, and headed straight for the farmers’ market for peaches and berries. My plan: dice and freeze peaches and strawberries, adding them to the drink later for a bit of cold crunch.
I probably could have been more liberal with the vanilla vodka, but I was sensitive to the fact that most people would be driving home…Future incarnations of this drink may showcase a little more of the spike and a little less of the sparkle. :-) But it was delicious anyway! As guests happily ladled out the last few drops, I commented to my housemate that we needed a name for our new drink. “Peach Jubilee!” she immediately offered. Looking at the happy faces of friends soaking up the last rays of sunshine, and thinking of similar summer dusks in my aunt’s kitchen, I agreed.
3 bottles peach sparkling cider
1-2 cups vanilla vodka (adjust as you like – but drink responsibly, etc!)
1 ½ cups diced and frozen fresh peaches
1 cup diced and frozen strawberries
(Optional: Tonic water for some extra fizz and to counter the sweetness of the cider)
Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl. Enjoy!