The muffled voice over the radio called it. I just wasn’t listening. It wasn’t even spring yet and a chorus of people familiar with weather patterns were talking about a long, hot summer. More accurately they warned of a record breaking summer with temperatures consistently hot and uncomfortable. The kind of summer we haven’t seen since forever.
Each weekend morning with the air conditioner working overtime I wake up refreshed and cool and comfortable. Occasionally we get lost in the cool surroundings and become oblivious to the bright sun beating down outside. And these days it’s been beating down with the kind of consistency and regularity usually reserved for post office workers.
The first step outside each day is a warning of things to come. It’s a friendly reminder than we react to our surroundings. Each day we dress and plan according to the temperature outside, but that’s after stepping through that front door to feel it. Really feel it. And for the better part of two months the weather has been hot. Hell hot.
It actually reminds me of a summer we experienced when I was going through University. Luckily at the time, my good friend Peter had a cottage and we went up there almost every weekend. To get away and escape, from life and the heat that rose from the streets of the city. Those were good times. And hot days.
A handful of us would show up on Friday night and lay claim to the first bed we could find. And when one bed already had a bag on it we rushed to the next one. The couch was reserved for the last one through the doors. And I made sure never to be last because that person also had to bring in anything left behind in the cars.
We’d stay up late Friday nights. Really late. We were young and had an entire life of responsibility ahead of us, so we threw caution to the wind. Those nights were spent playing games and having fun until the sun raised her weary head. Some would be early casualties, but there were always a couple of us left standing at the end. And only then would it be lights out. With the sunlight softly streaming through the windows.
I had two jobs during those weekends. The easiest jobs I’ve ever held. I made breakfast each morning, which was fine since I was a morning person and rarely suffered from the ill affects of late night drinks, and I made the mixed drinks on the really hot days. That was most days, it seemed. Cold cocktails to cool us down while we roasted like birds on the dock below.
We’d spend those weekends taking boat rides out on the quiet lake to this one spot his older brothers had discovered. A small island with a cliff to jump from. We’d take turns in the boat whilst the others swam up to the land and worked their way up to the top. Then, one by one, we’d jump off that cliff with reckless abandon and the warm air swirling by our ears. We’d leap with faith and friends and with the freedom only young adults could appreciate. And we’d jump again and again.
Every afternoon we grabbed a chair on the dock and talked with the sun sitting high atop the brilliant blue sky. The sun had nowhere to hide over the lake so it was always particularly hot those days. A heatwave broke over us almost every weekend. We ignored the warnings and relished in the chance to sit back and do nothing, one weekend at a time.
We cooled off every chance we could by jumping in the lake for a short escape from that blistering sun. One feeble cannon ball attempt after another to escape. When the sun reached its peak, usually by early afternoon,
I’d make the trip up the stairs to the cottage kitchen to fire off a round of fresh cocktails fitting for such hot weather.
I bartended in those days so I was given that baton without even asking for it. I was in charge of creating summer masterpieces with only a shaker or blender and whatever was stocked in the fridge. I had more than my share of failures destined to be thrown in the bushes on first taste. But every once in a while I made a drink that would have them calling for refills before I could enjoy one myself. Like this drink. I made round after round of The Antidote.
This is my answer to everything summer throws at you. When it was so hot that the only answer was to go inside for cover, I came out with batches of this drink. One sip and you’re transported to a cooler place, a better place, with a breeze that washed over you. One taste was all it took. And voila, the heat didn’t matter anymore.
Today is just like those old days. Almost exactly. Just a bit older with more responsibility. I hold the same two jobs now, aside from my actual job, which means going into the kitchen on these hot summer days with empty hands and coming out with a tray full of cold drinks for us and our new friends.
There’s only one difference between then and now. There’s no lake to jump in these days. And the faces have changed. But during the heat wave we’re living through now, I resort to this concoction from the hottest days of my youth to keep us cool. And just like it did back then, it works.
From my kitchen to yours.
- 8 strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 12 red currants
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 lime, quartered
- 1 tbsp. grated ginger
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 2 cups ice
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 1 shot cointreau
- 1/2 cup ginger ale
- thin lime slices, for garnish
- In a cocktail shaker, add strawberries, red currants, mint, lime, ginger, and sugar and muddle until the fruit is nearly pureed.
2. Add ice, vodka and cointreau and stir.
3. Pour into two glasses and top with ginger ale. Serve with lime wheel garnish.