When the Outdoors Forces You Inside

Winter Fizz cocktail

Learning to be comfortable in different weather conditions is one of the benefits of spending a lot of time outside. Weather isn’t always ideal: hail, while one of my favorite things to watch and listen to, can be quite painful when you are out on a trail run. Wind can be exhausting and frustrating. Lightning can be terrifying if you are in the wrong place, like a ridge. But there aren’t many conditions that keep me from venturing out at all.

Where I live, winter brings smog and this winter, this week, is particularly heinous. Even people who don’t normally complain about smog (not me — I watch air monitoring websites like other people watch social media, and I complain about pollution all the time), are complaining about smog. Friends are purchasing pollution masks and respirators. My co-worker is freaked out because her boogers were black. I have purchased a month’s membership at the gym (only 1 month — I am trying to be optimistic that the winter will still get stormy, which keeps the air cleaner).

So while a lot of things can happen when you are outside that might be uncomfortable, smog might the one thing that actually keeps me inside, riding a bike on a trainer next to an air purifier. However, this is not a post complaining about asthma-triggering smog.

Maybe you have SAD, maybe the holidays make you melancholy, maybe the air or the lack of snow stress you out. Maybe you are just so darn happy and have tons of reasons to celebrate. Whatever your state of mind, a tasty cocktail is a great way to end your day.

Luckily it is the holidays and people are making fewer excuses to not have a drink, so your friends may join you!

This little drink takes a little more work because the syrup must be made in advance. Also, it might not sound like a syrup you want to waste your time with, but I hope you will give it a try. Initially, I was timid with the cinnamon sticks and that was a mistake, as the flavor wasn’t strong enough to assert itself. Also, the vanilla bean gives depth, so don’t skip it. You use only a small amount of the syrup and the flavors need to be present to pop.

If you don’t have Creme Yvette in your liquor cabinet, what are you waiting for?? It’s an essential ingredient in a Blue Moon!

A Winter Fizz*

*Not named for the fizz in the air but for the bubbles in your glass.

2 oz. London-style dry gin
3/4 oz. Creme Yvette
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. cinnamon spice syrup
Chilled soda water

Combine all the ingredients, except the soda, in a shaker. The syrup is quite thick, so I recommend giving it a good shake without ice first, then add ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled glass and top with soda.

Cinnamon Spice Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce to a very low simmer and add 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 whole clove, 1 star anise, and ¼ of a vanilla bean. Simmer for 30 minutes, but watch it! It can boil down quickly and you may need to add more water. After 30 minutes, add an additional 1/3 cup of water, stir and allow the mixture to cool. Strain and bottle for use. Keep remainder refrigerated, and use within 2 weeks.

Also, please remember to make Milk Punch. Did you try it last year when I posted it? If you don’t believe me that it is delicious, come on over and I’ll make you some.

Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA