Appetizer, Drink

Long Days & Short Nights

I blew on the steam that was rising out of the mug. Smells of juniper, ginger, rosemary and lemon wafted around me. Somehow, over the course of the crazy day, my usual calm demeanor had changed. I was antsy, annoyed and crabby. Fact. I needed an adjustment. Stat. It was a major attitude adjustment – you know the kind, right?  It is the kind of adjustment that only a best friend can fix. No matter the scenario, if you hear her voice, all will be righted around again in one second. On this day simply leaving a message wasn’t going to fill that void. I had to turn to the next best thing.

The pre-fall afternoon was in full view as I made my way home.  I looked around at the country roads surrounding me as I made the journey home from the seemingly endless long day of work. Little bursts of red and yellow leaves were peeking through the trees, as if they too, might be in need of some change as well. The winds were blowing one minute across the overcast sky and suddenly the sun would burst forth from playing its merry game of hide and seek. I wondered who would win this game today – the sun or the clouds? I suddenly recalled the Brahms Symphony (No.4) my Mom would play for me as a young child. I remembered we were cuddled together on the couch in the old apartment – the soaring melodies and notes would wash over us as she weaved her tale. She would tell me a vivid story of the sun, thunderstorms, clouds and miraculously the sun would appear again. It was her extremely clever way of getting me to pause for a few moments of my childhood and listen to an entire 30+ minute symphony. (Note: it is hard enough just getting my students to listen to a 3 minute piece!) It opened  my ears, as well as my imagination, to this beautiful piece of music that was playing softly from a record player in the corner of the room. And it also opened my mind, heart and soul to music for years to come.

I had something else on my mind, this pre-fall day, some 30-ish years later, as I pulled into the driveway of my house. Brahms was not the cure for this day, I thought, as I parked the car. A hot toddy was needed and not just any liquor would do. You see I could not let go of my new love affair with gin just yet. I was longing for those balmy summer evenings where I would leisurely sip a cold gin and tonic and not have a care in the world. Well, those days are gone according to the calendar. Surprise! Gin became the main ingredient for this hot drink and the few remaining ingredients were merely a compliment.

Cast of Characters

The original recipe I used as a base was from Tracy at Shutterbean. Shutterbean used a ginger tea to get things started. I didn’t have any ginger tea on hand,  but I DID have some fresh ginger kicking around! And some days, when your thoughts are scattered and you feel a little dull, chopping ginger is a great start to begin the calming process. Here is my version for a calming and reinvigorating hot toddy!

The next best thing…

Since I couldn’t call up my best friend at that moment;  I tried and I got voicemail (wah, wah – sad trombone), such is life! Sipping a hot toddy from this precious mug she sent me a few years ago was the best that I could do. Wouldn’t you know the sun shone for the last few hours left of afternoon? Long after dinner was over the stars were twinkling away against the dark and colder night sky. It made me grateful for the upbringing I had – a whole Brahms Symphony in one sitting, really?!?!  Yes, I am so grateful for my current life, I thought to myself, as I gazed at the bright stars! Fall is coming! Have a great week! Thanks for reading!

Hot Gin & Ginger Toddy


  • Recipe slightly adapted by Shutterbean
  • 1 1/2 Cups water
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • small sprig of rosemary
  • 1 oz. gin
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • honey or maple syrup to taste


  1. In a small saucepan bring the water, ginger and rosemary to a boil and simmer gently for 15 - 20 minutes. Straining the liquid into your favorite mug, add gin, a squeeze of lemon and honey to taste. Sip, savor and enjoy!

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