Thursday, February 16, 2017

Gin Zinger

I once read an article written by a fellow military spouse that described the process of frequently moving and making new friends and how it effected her.  The thing that stuck me the most was when she described how for her trying to make new friends was like dating.  How the first few times getting together with potential new friends is like going on a first date.  The awkwardness, wondering whether the other person likes you as much as you like her, trying to figure out if you have enough in common to have a "second date".  Doesn't that sound like fun?  Especially for a woman who has been married for 17 years and had hoped that her dating years were long over.

She hit the nail on the head with this characterization.  The whole things is exhausting and emotionally draining, fraught with anxiety.  Especially when you need to repeat the whole scene every two to three years.  It's so hard to keep putting yourself out there like that, risking rejection.  For myself and many spouses that I know it makes you want to cocoon yourself in your home with your family and not bother to put yourself out there and try to make friends that you'll just have to say goodbye to in a few years anyway.

Here's the thing, though.  In order to make this life work you really need support and people nearby who you can count on and talk to.  It's just too hard otherwise.  And it's made even harder by being in a foreign country and isolated by language and culture.  The opportunities for finding friends are fewer and the options more limited.  Cocooning just isn't possible if you want to escape with your sanity.  So I extend my comfort zone and let people know me and decide if they like me enough to include me in their circles.  I hope others do the same for me as well.

After 5 months here in Athens, I think I'm moving past the first date stage.  At least I hope I am.  I've found a few ladies who I feel like I connect with.  I'm not the kind of person who makes a zillion friends, usually just two or three.  So after some family get-togethers, books club gatherings and ladies' nights things are settling into the realm of comfortable and happy.  The gals I'm surrounding myself with are kind, funny, strong, supportive and thoughtful.  So hopefully the first dates have been good ones and I can relax.  I'm crossing my fingers that my instincts are right and the second and third date stage goes just as well.  Cheers to that!

Gin Zinger
Makes one drink.  Simple Syrup recipe makes enough to share with six or more friends.
For the printable recipe, click here

I had this drink at a restaurant with some of the new friends I'm making here in Athens.  The night was great and the cocktail memorable.  The ingredients and method are simple so it's an easy drink to whip up for a bunch of friends for a girls' night.  The only time consuming portion is making and cooling the simple syrup.  But once it's made it keeps well in the refrigerator.  Per the restaurant's description it's a cardamom flavored syrup which just takes a few whole cardamom pods and a few minutes of steeping.  If you can't find the pods or don't care for cardamom, the syrup will be just as good without them.  But I suggest trying, it's not a strong flavor mixed with the others but the cardamom stands out just a bit in the finish.  One final note, I highly recommend Hendricks gin for this drink.  The cucumber and spices are a perfect match for the lemon and ginger in the drink.

Fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into quarter sized pieces
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounces gin
1 ounce cardamom simple syrup (see recipe below)
optional garnishes include cucumber slices and a splash of tonic/sparkling water

Place a slice of ginger in the bottom of a rocks glass.  Crush it gently with a muddler or the end or a wooden spoon to release some of the juices.  Top the ginger with the remaining ingredients and give the drink a gentle stir.  Garnish and serve.

For the cardamom simple syrup-
5 cardamom pods
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

Gently crush the cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon.  Place the cardamom pods, sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and let the syrup cool completely  Remove the cardamon pods before using.


  1. Hi Renee,
    I have been following your blog ever since your mother shared it on Facebook. I think that you were in California and a couple of years before the move to Germany. I love your recipes and hearing about your adventures, thank you so much for sharing.
    I have a question about the cardemon pods in the above recipe. Did you use the large dark ones or the smaller green ones?

    1. MJ, I appreciate your support and love that I have such devoted readers! Great question and one I should definitely clarify. I used the smaller, greenish pods for this recipe.