Floating in the sun on Lake Whatcom, Summer 2015.
We packed backpacks and tote bags, put on our swimsuits, and headed out for an afternoon at the lake. Once arrived my sisters and I slung our candy-colored floats over our shoulders and made our way down the trail in our sandal-clad feet. A soft breeze stirred the warm air as we sought the perfect spot. We craned our necks to find groups of people frolicking in the tiny coves dotted along the shore, tucked-in between craggy rocks and blackberry brambles.
We came along an uninhabited nook and secured our bags in the rocks and bushes before gingerly climbing down into the lake. Beers stowed in drink holders we each pushed off into the water on our floats, knees and bellies and shoulders exposed to the sun. Boats and jet skis sent mild waves across the lake, and we bobbed and rocked in the water as we gently kicked our feet.
I'd push out into the lake and let the wind and waves send me back to the shore where I'd grab a handful of cherries or chips before paddling back out into the water. Occasionally I'd take a brief dip into the water so I could dry off as I floated in the sun. When my skin felt warm again I'd let the lake send me back to the shady spots under the lazy trees that arched their backs over the water. I'd gaze into the canopy to watch the birds hop between branches, triumphant sunbeams pushing their way through layers of leaves as the water lapped against the rocky shore.
When I started to think about making a drink in honor of my sister's birthday, my mind drifted back to that day on the lake during her last visit home. Lake floating is one of her favorite summer pastimes, and it was a high priority on her to-do list during her stay. What better way to celebrate her than to capture that experience in a drink?
This cocktail is bright, citrusy, and light on the tongue. It is warm shoulders, rosy cheeks, and the mirrored sparkle of sunshine on the surface of a lake.
Cocktail recipe: Floating in the sun on Lake Whatcom, Summer 2015 (a.k.a. "Lake floating")
What you'll need:
- 1 oz gin
- 1 oz orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)
- 1 oz pale ale syrup, recipe below
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
What to do:
Add all ingredients to an empty cocktail shaker.
Fill shaker halfway with ice, seal, and shake vigorously for 45 seconds.
Strain into a cocktail ("martini") or coupe glass.
If desired: Garnish with a lemon, orange, or grapefruit twist.
Pro-tip: Cover shaker in a towel while shaking to keep your hands from freezing!
Pale Ale syrup:
What you'll need:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 12 oz bottle of pale ale (I used the seasonal Elysian Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
What to do:
Combine sugar, water, and honey in a medium saucepan, stirring until just combined.
Slowly add beer to the saucepan, being careful not to allow it to fizz over. Stir gently to combine and place pot on medium-low heat, stirring often.
Bring mixture just to a simmer. Don't leave the stove while heating this mixture. If you aren't careful the fizz can overflow as the mixture heats up, so keep an eye out.
Reduce heat to lowest setting and allow to reduce to 12 oz of syrup (not quite halfway). Allow to cool before using and store in a clean jar or bottle. Keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
The return to rain and cooler weather pleases me, but I'm glad to have this recipe for those days when I need a little sunshine in my life. I hope it is the same for you.