Friday, March 11, 2011

A Summer Idyll - Another Cocktail from the Zinc Counter

Picnics used to be a middle class tradition in America. Before WWII, extended families would have big "clan" get-togethers, with long tables, and elaborate feasts which rivaled Thanksgiving for pomp and circumstance. Before my brother was born in 1960, we used to make a proper picnic lunch of cold fried chicken, potato salad, salted radishes, deviled eggs, hotdogs (cooked on a grill), potato chips, sliced tomatoes, and cherry compote for dessert, all packed in a large wicker basket covered with a red and white checkered table-cloth, and drive somewhere into the country, or to a park.

An idyll is a short poem or piece of music describing rustic or country life. Countless paintings on the theme of an idyll have been so titled. Romantic or Post-Romantic notions on a quaint rustic theme were very typical of the Impressionists, who wanted to imagine a perfect collaboration between nature and human life, idealized in their atmospheric canvases filled with scintillating, evanescent color palettes. A lady sitting on the grass, reading in the shade of a parasol on a Summer's day, seems the purest expression of this idyllic vision.

Frank Weston Benson - 1910 - The Reader, A Summer Idyll

So here's a cocktail which celebrates that vision, a premonition of Spring, or of Summer, just around the corner. Sweet, and lilting, and forgiving. Seductive, but soft, easy.

Recipe by proportion:

4 parts white rum
1 part hazelnut liqueur
1 part strawberry liqueur
1 1/2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice

Stirred well in ice and served up. Lemon slice garnish if desired.

I can't imagine doing the picnic thing these days--it seems the habit of a lost time. I guess "wine picnics" are still popular, and general parties for group occasions are still a tradition. But the middle-class family picnic seems old-fashioned.

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