According to the calendar, summer is just about half over — which means that there’s still six weeks left to enjoy! (Officially, summer started on June 21 and ends on September 22 this year.) Sure, if the kids are heading back to school in a few weeks, or work starts getting busy again right after Labor Day, it might feel like summer is coming to an end. But don’t call it just yet — especially if you live in the Bay Area! You know that our sunny, warm weather will last well into October. That means you still have time to grow a garden, have a barbecue, or take a road trip. So far, I’ve managed to check two of those three items off my Summer Bucket List, but August has slowed me down a bit.
There’s a certain lull to August that I like. Maybe it’s the calm before the storm of Labor Day weekend — that (supposed) last hurrah of summer. Maybe it’s the long, hot and humid days and warm nights that remind me of growing up in the Midwest (sadly, minus the fireflies). Maybe it’s the sounds of my neighbors’ kids playing along the street in the evening, yelling and laughing and riding bikes until the sun sets over the western hills and their parents call them inside. Somehow, everything just seems slower, more relaxed.
What about you? How’s your summer going? Has it been rush-rush to take trips, get the kids to camp, manage those meaning-to-get-aroundtoit house projects? Have you taken time to just watch a sunset, enjoy music in the park, admire your garden, or get out on the road with Led Zeppelin/Beastie Boys/Kings of Leon blasting and the windows down? With six weeks of summer left, what would you like to do?
Way back on June 1, I decided that I wanted to make the most of my summer this year, hence the Summer Bucket List. I didn’t want another year to go by in which my answer to “What did you do this summer?” was “WORK,” followed by a long list of things I meant to do. I wasn’t looking to do anything big, like climb Mt. Everest or swim the English Channel. I just wanted to recapture the feeling I had as a kid: that summer meant weeks of possibility laid out before me. Did I want to read books (yes, actual books) in the evening until sunset forced me to turn on lamp? Yes! Did I want to get in the car and just go anywhere with the radio blaring? Yes! Did I want to turn my kitchen into a lab for recipe development and experimentation? Yes! All that, and more.
So, how has it gone? Well, this weekend, it’s time to get organized and check in with my Summer Bucket List. What can I check off, and what do I still want to do or try or see before fall starts and the holidays come rushing up? Preserving herbs and vegetables from my garden are at the top of the list, but so is that road trip I’ve been craving for months. Choices, choices! But first, I think I’ll mix up a garden-inspired cocktail, grab my notebook and head to a cozy spot the backyard to think about the possibilities of the rest of the summer.
Recipe: 650 Blackberry Mojito
Yield: 1 cocktail
Local fruits and garden herbs have provided tons of inspiration for summer cocktails this year! I created this recipe with mint from my garden and blackberry syrup made with u-pick blackberries from local Webb Ranch. While the u-picks have come to an end, you might still be able to find regional berries at farmers’ markets, smaller grocery stores, or green markets, such as Sigona’s in Redwood City or Los Altos.
You’ll need a double old-fashioned or highball glass, cocktail shaker, shot glass with measurement markings or measuring spoons, a muddler, a long-handled spoon, and ice.
Note that I’ve given the ingredients in ounces. If you’re using measuring spoons,
2 ounces = 4 tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons, ½ ounce = 1 tablespoon
12 large mint leaves (I used “Best Mint” spearmint from my garden)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 – 1½ ounces simple syrup (heat equal amounts of sugar and water to a simmer, stir until sugar is completely dissolved, then cool)
1 ounce blackberry syrup
2 ounces white rum
4 – 6 ounces sparkling water
- Add the mint leaves, simple syrup, and lime juice to the glass and muddle.
I use a press-and-turn motion with the muddler to crush the leaves without shredding them. You’re working to release the mint essence from the leaves and combine it with the simple syrup and lime. Want to know if it’s working? Put your nose in the glass and take a sniff. You should be able to smell a combination of mint and citrus.
- Add the rum, then the blackberry syrup.
Stir once or twice to combine.
- Add ice to fill the glass about halfway.
- Top with sparkling water.
- Give a quick stir to combine everything
- Garnish with a mint sprig and a fresh blackberry or two.