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  • Brianne Moore

A Happy Birthday Cocktail!

I'm celebrating another year around the sun with a drink inspired by A Bright Young Thing!

It's my birthday! And what better way to celebrate than with a cocktail, right? This particular cocktail is a very special one, because it was created especially in honour of my book, A Bright Young Thing, by the brilliant Lindsay Merbaum (her book, The Gold Persimmon, is out now and you should absolutely pick up a copy!) Here's her full detailed description of how the drink came to be:

This cocktail achieves a balance of sweetness, tartness, and bitterness—kind of like the lovely Astra herself, though there’s nothing bitter about her personality, only her experience. Though it all comes up roses in the end! Speaking of, there are so many flower references in the novel, I was excited to run with that theme and create something refreshing and frothy, with fruity-floral notes. I chose gin as a base because it’s the key ingredient in the gimlets Jeremy is so famous for, and it seemed fitting for the era. Gin is also hugely popular among women.
As for the other flavors, I picked rosemary for its perfume-y quality, and to complement the strawberry rose. Rosemary is so beautiful in its own way, though it always plays a supporting role, like Joyce, and so its potential is sometimes overlooked, til it gets a chance to shine.
Rose is for Rosedale, “roses in your cheeks,” Lillian’s garden, Belinda’s wedding, the infamous Rose Red dress, the rose plant Jeremy sends Astra, and more. Rose is a rather “precious” flavor—classic, highly feminine, but overbearing if there’s too much of it. When balanced, it’s a gorgeous accent. (Millicent should aspire to be less thorn, more rose.)
Strawberry is for Alice’s jam and Jeremy’s crop. Another classic flavor, though this one’s ubiquitous and liked by all. Strawberries are delicious but unpretentious, perfect plain or in “jammy dodgers,” but when you combine the berry with a hint of rose, it turns fabulous and is anything but ordinary, kind of like Astra.
In presenting this cocktail, I set a vintage glass atop red-purple lace (“a bit of cheap lace!”) scattered with dried peonies, and garnished the drink by setting mini pansies in the foam, which look a bit like tiny butterflies to me. (I noted Astra’s father first fell for her mother during a performance of “Madame Butterfly.”)

A.Maz.Ing! It's an absolutely delicious drink; I hope you'll join me in raising a glass today!

The Astra Davies

1 1/2 oz gin (or gin substitute)

1 oz tonic water

1 oz lemon juice

1T strawberry rose syrup (recipe follows)

1T rosemary syrup (recipe follows)

2tsp aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas. I promise, it will not make your drink taste of chickpeas! But you can omit this, if you prefer, or use a pasturised egg white)

Mini organic pansies to garnish

A pretty glass (treat yourself!)

Add the gin, lemon juice, aquafaba and syrups to a shaker with ice. Shake for about 30 seconds, until frothy. Add tonic water to a cocktail glass, then strain the mixture from the shaker. Top with mini edible pansies, if desired.

Strawberry rose syrup

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 cup strawberries

1 oz lemon juice

1T rose water

Stir all ingredients in a small pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover and let simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool, then strain into a clean jar or bottle. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy in cocktails, sodas, with ice cream, over pancakes, or in baked goods.

Note: this makes quite a lot of syrup. It's delicious, but if you only want a small amount, you can cut the recipe by 1/2 or 1/4.

Rosemary syrup

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

3 sprigs rosemary, destemmed

Follow steps for the strawberry syrup above.

I'm off to treat myself to some writing time (my gift to me!) Have a great week, everyone!


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