Love That Liquor!

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Virgil Evetts

Apologies for what could be perceived as a somewhat morally-challenged title, but after nine months of self-induced sobriety, I’m really rather enjoying the pleasures of a tipple or two. But I wouldn’t want you to think I’m roaring-drunk and swinging from the rafters – actual inebriation has never really been my gig. My brain never really gets properly sozzled and ends being annoyed with drunken limbs. I do have a history of being savagely honest with people when in this state, which isn’t always wise or welcome.

No, all I mean is that I’m once again enjoying the way certain drinks complement food and, at least in my house, mark the division between night and day.  I don’t enjoy drinking during the day at all and have always kept pretty doggedly to an after-six routine.

When I finally got home the night Olive arrived, in an elated but frankly shattered state, I somehow managed to cook a meal  and then poured myself a stiff grappa. This is one of the few hard drinks I really like, and it most certainly helped to settle my wildly buzzing head and send me off to sleep. It was very welcome and very lovely.

My best beloved after the birth craved not a glass of Veuve or Moet, but a sip of crisp and fruity new season’s sauvignon blanc, her very favourite wine. In the interests of our wee whelpling, she allowed herself only the tiniest sip, but along with the Kikorangi, Kakariki Brie, smoked salmon, salami and other formerly forbidden foods I laid on, it felt like a very personal ceremony to both of us.

Apart from the shop-bought drinks now back on my menu, I have also been rediscovery my various homemade concoctions, which have been gathering dust and quietly aging in my cool, dark garage.

My 2009 vintage apple wine, made from my own Braeburns, is drinking very well. Dry as a desert wind with a subtle fruity flavour and an almost oily ‘mouth feel’, reminiscent of a good gewürztraminer. My Braeburn tree is somewhat biennial in its fruiting habits and produced such a meagre crop last year that I didn’t bother with winemaking. It should be back on top for 2010 though, which will mean about another 30 litres of this very drinkable drop.

Whilst cleaning out the pantry the other day I also stumbled upon a large preserving jar of damson plums steeping in 80% proof alcohol, forgotten for a couple of years. I strained off the dark red elixir and diluted it to a safe level with strong sugar syrup. The resulting damson liqueur is quite magnificent – richly plumy with a strong note of almond. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

As a look out the window right now I see that I might have just enough lemons to make a small batch of limoncello for summer. Summer really isn’t the same without this yolk-yellow drink poured ice cold and syrupy from the freezer.

Time to fire up the still methinks…

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