We’re celebrating my birthday this week!!!!
I’m turning 31. THIRTY ONE!
I’ve been told it’s not quite the same milestone as the big 3 – 0. And maybe it’s not. It certainly hasn’t been creeping up with the same gifts of a slowing metabolism and aging skin. (I’ve been there. Got that.)
In fact, 31 hasn’t been creeping up at all. It’s been glowing in the distance with a big sign that says, “OWN IT.” And I have. I’ve been counting down with a borderline obsessive sense of anticipation. I started the countdown three months ago. It involved daily iPhone wallpapers that said things like, “twirl your heart out,” “kill it at the gym. eat everything at dinner,” and “get naked.”
It was comprised of weight lifting sessions, kickboxing dates, and urban hikes. It was filled with photography engagements, writing goals, and recipe testing. I packed it with walks to get coffee, whale watching in British Columbia, and kayaking at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge. Garrett helped me countdown with cocktail hours, taco nights, and a lovely anniversary dinner at Daniel’s.
Mom and Valerie took me to Nirmal’s. (Which is amazing. If you haven’t been you should totally go.) Merry and Richard made me one of my favorite dinners – tenderloin steak and chocolate mousse! Alice kicked my butt at the gym. Julie went on a long distance hike with me. (Long-distance hikes are fantastic. Really. If you haven’t done one, you should give it a try. Phones and hills and huffing and puffing together while hiking hundreds of miles apart.) Bev, Melanie, and I sweat all over the Eastside Kickboxing gym.
Garrett’s taking me to dinner Friday night!!! (I have no idea where we’re going. And, I’m not 100% sure what to wear. Blue dress? Red dress? Skinny jeans and heels? What do you think?)
And then – to ring in the big THREE ONE – we’re going to Matt’s in the Market!!! My mom and I have been trying to go to Matt’s for the last three years. I’m beyond excited! (We celebrate our birthdays together. Which is amazing. And lovely. And the best.)
So here we are. It’s 5:00 am. The sun is starting to rise outside my window. I’m on my third cup of coffee. And, I’m feeling a little bit sappy. (No. It’s not because I’m sampling one of these cocktails. We’ll get to them. I swear.)
Because, damn, am I blessed. I have people in my corner who are rock stars –
My husband, who supports this crazy need I have to write and loves me without question.
My parents, who have taught me to dream big, work tirelessly, and pick myself up even if I’m going to fall down again.
My brother and sister who celebrate my successes and let me celebrate theirs. My grandparents, who have embraced me like their own. My mother and father-in-law who love me unconditionally. My friends who cheer for me. My mentors who have taken me under their wings.
And then of course, there are also cocktails. Lovely, nummy cocktails. That’s a thing for which to be thankful, right? My hubby makes my all time favorite gin and tonic – heavy on the gin, heavy on the lime, and delivered with a kiss. It’s the kind of bright and sultry drink I like to sip on a warm day.
But to bring something extra special to the party, I wanted a color that would grab your attention and a spice that would wake up your taste buds. And thus, the Rhubarb and Jalapeno Tonic was born.
It brings sweet and heat together with an acidic finish that’s refreshingly satisfying. It’s the kind of cocktail perfect for a gal who’s about to own 31. Wherever you are this Saturday, I hope you’ll join me in raising a glass (or two).
Rhubarb and Jalapeño Tonic
Makes roughly 1 cup
1 cup chopped rhubarb
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 long strip of lemon peel
Combine rhubarb, water, sugar and lemon peel in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb breaks down (15 – 20 minutes).
Remove lemon peel. Transfer liquid to a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Place in refrigerator and allow to cool completely before using.
(Can keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week)
Makes 1 cocktail
3 Jalapeño slices
1 ounces rhubarb syrup
2 ounces gin
½ ounce lime juice, plus lime wedge garnish
Splash of tonic water
Muddle jalapeño slices in a cocktail shaker. Add rhubarb syrup, gin, lime juice and ice. Shake to chill.
Strain mixture into a tumbler filled with ice. Add a splash of tonic. Garnish with lime wedge. Serve immediately.
P.S. Do you have a favorite gin cocktail recipe? I’d love to give it a try. Please leave it in a comment below 😉