It was the summer of 1997 and I was in a floral mini skirt, topped by a black leather bomber jacket that smelled of cigarettes and musky perfume (Malibu Musk). It matched my favourite combat boots. A scarf in the same print as the skirt held my hair back in a high pony tail in a 1950s-preppy-meets-punk-rock-grunge sort of way. A pair of Ray-Bans perched on top of my head. I felt so grown up at 17.
Aerosmith had just released their Nine Lives album, and my hometown was one of the first stops on the tour! We had terrible seats, my friends and I, possibly the worst in the house - up in the very last row of the balcony, next to the dark, grimy back wall of the arena where guys would sneak off to and pee when they didn't want to miss the show. But we didn't care. To us they were perfect. We were free up there in the "nose-bleed" section. Free in a way that can only be experienced within the universe of a 17 year old on the cusp of adulthood, but not quite there yet. Except, on that night we were.
I saw Aerosmith again in '99 at the Monza Rock Festival outside of Milan. It was pouring rain. And once more in '03 under the stars at Red Rocks in Denver when they were on tour with KISS, but neither compares to that first show as a wild, free-spirited teenager. I haven't listened to that album in years. You could say my taste in music has evolved, but to this day I can't listen to those songs without getting more than a bit nostalgic, the same way a girl does about, say, her first sip of pink champagne... or her first kiss. I mention all this because as I was making this cocktail last week Aerosmith's "Pink" came on the radio and I remembered how I used to love that song!
If you follow me on Instagram then you know I run a cocktail series every Friday afternoon. Most of the recipes are inspired by the music I love - The Beatles, Def Leppard, Billy Joel, now Aerosmith. And most appear only there, but a lucky few make it over here to the blog. This one made the cut!
The hardest part of that series is choosing a name. I'm always influenced by the environment around me, the weather, of course the music on the radio, so when it came to naming this one, the first thing that came to mind was "Pink" - since it so brilliantly is! Then I thought "Pink as the bing on your cherry," but quickly decided against it (and probably rightly so). Also up for consideration were "Pink, it was love at first sight," (true, but it didn't have the right ring) and "Be my Flamingo." Really, I could have reached into that song and pulled out any lyrics and they would have fit perfectly. But in the end I decided instead to call it "Pretty please" (with a cherry on top?) - quite likely the phrase I used when asking my parents' permission to go to that concert in the first place.
This recipe is a combination of a couple that I've found. It's fresh, bright, but not as sweet or fruity as most summer cocktails, and it's complex enough, even with only three ingredients, to satisfy a true gin lover. And that color! I think PINK will become my new summertime obsession... topped with a cherry, of course!
Pretty Please Pink Cherry Cocktail
for the cocktail:
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. cherry simple syrup
2 oz. London Dry Gin (Beefeater is my favourite)
for the cherry simple syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
8 sweet red cherries
a few drops of pure vanilla extract
To make the syrup, halve the cherries, but leave the pits intact. Combine the water, sugar and cherries in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high until the mixture comes to a boil (this was about a minute and a half in my microwave). Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and let the cherries steep in the syrup until complete cool, at least half an hour. Add the vanilla. (Alternately, this can all be done in a saucepan on the stove.) Once cool, strain into a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
For each cocktail add 1/2 an ounce of lemon juice, 1/2 an ounce of cherry syrup and 2 ounces of gin to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until very cold and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a cherry!
Find more of my cocktail recipes here!