Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 31, 2016--Aperol Spritzes

Two dearest of friends arrived for a visit that we were eagerly looking forward to.

As usual, but not to be taken for granted, they arrived all aglow with happiness and totting, as they always do, a picnic basket.

These baskets are traditionally overflowing with things they have come to love during the past year that they are eager to share--a favorite wine, sumptuous cheese, crunchy biscotti, exotic fruit, a book that is perfect for lazy Maine afternoons, and a household object or two like the rustic "Lodge" sign they brought one year which we display in our front window. Not that we are the best of hosts, but the sign suggests we do try.

With these friends, though, we are so happy to see them that no trying is required.

This time they surpassed themselves. There was no cheese, no wine, no books, no decorative items, just what appeared to be a bag of eclectic bottles and a curious handful of ordinary oranges.

"We know you two are not cocktail-philes as we are."

"Well, Rona said, "that's not quite true thanks to Kentucky-native Judge Boyce Martin, a beloved neighbor who died earlier this year, thanks to him I have become enthusiastic about bourbon. On the rocks but also in mixed drinks like bourbon Manhattans. I've even been know to order a bourbon sour."

"Interesting," HR said.

"But I'm still pretty much a wine-with-dinner imbiber," I said, "Though when I was in my 20s I ran with a drinking crowd and hung out with them in Billy Reed's Little Club on East 55th Street. Quite a watering hole. Tanqueray and tonic was my drink of choice and then after a few of those, a lot of those, rusty nails."

While Rona and I brought our friends up-to-date about our drinking habits, TG was with rapt concentration unloading the basket.

"What's that?" I asked. "I know about the Prosecco, sort of Italian champagne, and the bottle of sparkling water. And obviously I know those are oranges. But what's the large bottle of green stuff?"

"HR told me you also used to like Campari and soda . . ."

"True. Like a pseudo-sophisticate, I called it CampariSoda. As it were one word."

"And so, this Aperol, the green stuff, is a little like Campari. Bitter, herbal. We're going to make you Aperol Spritzes. It's very popular in Italy, especially in Venice where we were not too long ago to reaffirm our marriage vows."

"Sorry we couldn't join you there," Rona said, "We so much wanted to but the timing didn't work for us. So let's celebrate that while you here visiting."

"With Aperol Spritzes!" TG said as he was slicing the oranges into wedges on our cutting board. "Do you have large tumblers?"

"In fact, we do," Rona said. "Anything else?"

"Yes, please put three ice cubes in each glass."

"You even brought your own shot glass," I noticed.

"I like to be very precise when mixing drinks,"  TG said, "Notice how this one is marked to help measure the ingredients."

"I see," I said.

"So here's the recipe--three parts Prosecco," he measured three half-shots for each of the four glasses, "And two parts Aperol, a splash of Polar club soda, and a wedge of orange."

He handed a glass to each of us. "Now twirl it carefully to mix all the ingredients," which we did.

Raising his glass he said, "Salute!"

They are wonderful and so are HR and TG who brought the mixin's.

By the end of the evening the bottles of Prosecco and Aperol were nearly empty. The good news is that Hanaford carries both.

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