Thursday, January 28, 2010

A summer cocktail for the winter blues

We're approaching the roughest part of winter here in Chicago — rough not necessarily because the weather is colder or snowier, but because we're not even close to the end yet. Serious winter chill clings to Chicago well into "spring," and I've seen plenty of Easter dresses fluffing from underneath heavy parkas on the steps of the church across the street from our place. T.S. Eliot has Chicago in mind when he observed the cruelty of April.

So it's about this time of year I begin turning to various tricks to keep my mind in a sunny spot. We risk the electric meter by blazing the lights in the house. I load the iPod with two able winter combatants: a lengthy playlist of reggae music (heavy on the Toots!) and a mix called "Africa Hot" of some African and Africa-inspired tunes. We also take breaks from winter soups and stews for the occasional citrusy salad (it is, after all, the citrus time of year). Same for beverages: enough black tea and whiskeys. I've really taken to a squeeze of lemon over ice and a light pour of Zen green tea liqueur. It's become my favorite cocktail this month, with a twist. Tastes like June. Tastes like I'm about to break a sweat touring the fields full of second flush. Tastes like something we'd drink on the lawn at Ravinia for one of their summer concerts.

Mind over meteorology, my friends.

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