“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.” — Charles Dickens.
One of the houses where I lived when I was very young was surrounded by berry brambles and rows of raised planters. Summer mornings I sat on the lawn, restless, at the beginning of an endless day of childhood, within the folds of ill-fitting khaki shorts. There were pleasant interludes to the drag of being a kid with a humid summer to endure. There were blueberries. I poured cream in a bowl and added them in one or three at a time. They floated, unwashed, and the milk and my fingers and my cheeks turned purple. The ground dirt and darker soil stuck to the nectar on my hands and the wrinkles in my knees.
The following drink has everything to do with what I remember of childhood: waiting for something you can’t will to come any faster and making a mess of something sweet to pass the time. This drink is spring anticipating summer. You will read that the cobbler was the genteel choice of the 1800s bar patron, male and female, and that ordering the fruity alternative to straight bourbon whiskey combatted temperance propagandists’ images of grossly indulgent drinkers. Meanwhile, this drink is not polite or versed in table manners. It’s a rustic, pick the bits and peels out of your teeth, sticky like dipping your finger in a bowl of cake batter, let the watermelon juice drip off your chin kind of thing. So much so, apparently, that this drink became the first occasion for the use of the straw.
Charles dickens was a fan.
1.0 oz London dry gin
2.0 oz Lillet Blanc
1 teaspoon fine sugar
1 handful of pickled blueberries, and a few for garnishing
This drink, at half liquor and half fruit, is as much about the making as it is about the drinking. It should be cloying. It is meant to be sessionable with Dickensian forbearance. And it’s constituents are meant for the adult to do with them what a child’s heart intends. I recommend enjoying it on a lawn, khakis or no, remembering the easy superiority of childhood.