Cheers! A Cocktail, a Mocktail, and a Travel Tale or Two
The hard truth is, travel is going to look a little different in the near future. Vacation plans have stalled, honeymoons have been put on pause (like mine!), exotic destinations are ever more exotic, and adventure-planning is about to get much more creative.
I’ve been planning to write a travel guide for you, but it felt kind of mean to do that. Instead of a vacation strip tease, I decided on sharing something inspiring and fun for wherever you are right now, on your couch, on the toilet, or taking a “break” from work.
Below are three cocktail/mocktails inspired by my most recent worldly adventures. In the past few years, I have traveled to Cuba, Botswana, and Vietnam with my now-husband Adam, all three amazing journeys that were far from easy and left an impression on us that we will never forget. Cuba was lively, colorful, friendly, nostalgic, and sweet. Botswana was wild yet reserved, natural, proud, and protective. Vietnam was loud, spicy, familial, an incredible hostess, and hardworking. They’ve all left their mark on my spirit, and I would recommend a trip to any and all of them if you have the means, the time, and the grit.
Let’s make a travel-inspired drink, shall we?
#1 Sweet and Tart: Sparkling Grapefruit Lemonade
Hot, sweet, lively, nostalgic – this drink reminds me of my holiday of drinking, dancing, and beaching in Cuba
Start with 1.5 oz vodka over ice
Squeeze in 2-3 grapefruit wedges
Pour in 1 oz lemon juice or squeeze in 2-3 lemon wedges
Pour in 1-2 oz of sparkling water
Finish with a splash of grapefruit juice and lemon wedges to garnish
*Add a splash of simple syrup to sweeten if you prefer
Cuba was a sweet and tart delight on the senses, full of bright colors and brighter people. The citrus of this drink reminds me of the sun drenched beaches and white sand of Varadero, the turquoise cars in Trinidad, and the lemon yellow building sprinkled across Havana. There, we walked for miles a day to visit different parts of a crumbling city where people sat out together at all hours of the day, and I mean just sat, together, for hours and hours.
I recommend pouring this lemonade over ice for a refreshing addition to a picnic in your own backyard or a house party with you, yourself, and whoever you are already cohabitating with these days.
#2 A Mild Melon Mocktail
Wild and yet reserved, humbling, natural – this drink is inspired by the feeling of complete, natural balance that came with our safari adventure in Botswana
Slice 1 large wedge of melon, honeydew, cantaloupe, or another of your choosing
Scoop out the melon from the rind and place it in a cup
Muddle the melon in the cup, creating juice from the hydrated melon
Pour that juice over ice
Squeeze in 2 wedges of lime for a little pucker
Pour in 3 oz sparkling water
Finish with a slice of melon or two or perhaps more lime if you like
Our safari adventure was wild in the natural sense, and there are plenty of stories for another day (I promise!) but we did not have much of a party in the conservative country of Botswana. The cities in which we stayed seemed to be deeply spiritual and contemplative, and were incredibly hot in temperature, so this drink is meant to hydrate, humble, and refresh, just like the place that inspired it. Plus the visual reminded me of the landscape! Because many of the locals we encountered did not seem to drink alcohol, I thought it was important to offer a mocktail as a true representation of the place we loved so much.
#3 A Sweet Heat
Spicy, sweet, pure, and welcoming – this drink is inspired by the incredible hospitality I experienced all throughout northern Vietnam
Cut into a jalapeno the long way and split it in 2, removing the seeds
Rub the sides of your glass with the pepper, then set aside
Pour 1.5 oz vodka into the glass over ice
Follow with 2 oz of sparkling water
Squeeze in 2 lime wedges
Garnish with 2 lime circles and a couple slices of jalapeno
You might laugh when I tell you what inspired this drink.
Have you ever slurped through a delicious and hot bowl of pho? If you haven’t, you are truly missing out! Adam and I ate pho of different varieties every. single. day. of our trip through northern Vietnam, a hot, brothy soup made in giant pots that were stewed and stirred for hours. The soup flavors varied slightly, each made by everyday women, mothers and matriarchs carrying their families and living in whichever small village or big city we stumbled into. Recipes may have changed village by village, as most home cooking usually does, but each and every bowl was garnished with hot hot jalapeños and a wedge of lime. That sweet and spicy combination was pure heaven at the end of our long days on the motorbike, and it’s a memory that will rest on my tongue and tug at my heart strings for the rest of my life.