Let's Celebrate!

Homemade Bitter-infused Sugar Cubes

It’s spring, it’s March, the cat didn’t barf today, daffodils! So many small reasons to celebrate! And for me, I am no longer wearing a giant sling 23 hours a day, which means Phase 1 of shoulder surgery recovery is behind me.

I took the dogs for their hike this morning. I cannot run for another 6 weeks, but I said hello to all the regulars running by and noticed where the trail has changed slightly with rain and snow since the last time I was there. White rocks in the trail glowed dimly against the still-damp dirt. It’s not the best trail with the best view, but it is the most convenient and I have run it more than any other these past few years. As I started up the long hill, part of me felt the slight dread of the familiar while another part was near tears for missing it.

Red-winged blackbirds were singing at the swamp behind the water tank, geese were settling in at the pond in the state park below the trail, Mack ran up the hillside through the scrub oaks and dried thistles and came back covered in burrs, seeds and stickers. He found a deer leg and got a few good chews before acquiescing to my request to leave it for the next dog to come along.

Spring is my favorite time of year, the season of exceptional change. There’s color, flowers, birds, sunshine, crazy and unpredictable weather. While I desperately feel like I am missing out, I remind myself that there is still plenty of life to be lived. The prospect of six weeks in a sling felt eternal until I was living them, and now they have passed. No one else notices that the sling is gone, some of my friends never even saw me strapped into it. Six more weeks will pass and I will be healed enough to strengthen. A blip in the course of a lifetime, really.

Meanwhile, I make friends with old guys at the gym who want to chat about their shoulder injuries. I laugh with the PTs about dogs and bikes as they torture my arm back to life. I have problem-solved how to function fairly well with one arm, just in time to be back to two. I’ve developed mental toughness in each and every ride on a stationary bicycle. Life doesn’t always look the same.

Here is a sparkly cocktail that is perfect for spring, for change, and our lucky, lucky lives.

Champagne Cocktail

It’s possible that I have disparaged the sugar cube in the past, but then I learned about making my own! This is a versatile, fun and delicious drink, best with a homemade sugar cube that is infused in bitters. If you don’t want to commit to one flavor of cube, make plain cubes and add the bitters after.

1 homemade, bitters-infused sugar cube*
Bitters of your choice
Sparkling wine of your choice
Lemon or orange zest

Place one of your sugar cubes in a flute or coupe glass. Fill the glass with sparkling wine. Add another dash or two of bitters, if desired. If you are using a plain sugar cube, add 2-3 dashes to the cube before topping with sparkling wine. Garnish with orange zest for aromatic bitters or lemon zest for Meyer lemon bitters.

*Homemade Bitter-Infused Sugar Cubes

1/4 cup cane sugar (this will give a much richer flavor than white sugar)
1/4 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon bitters (for plain cubes skip the bitters and double the water)

Combine all the ingredients until mixed. Press the mixture down into a small square sided dish about 1/4″ thick and score into squares. Let harden overnight and then break into cubes. Voila!

Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA