3. Cocktail Cabinet

IMG_2437From the simple and sophisticated, to intriguing concoctions of fruits and even spices, cocktails for me evoke 1920s flappers, Deco, prohibition, Gatsby decadence, but most of all friendship.

My first experience of the cocktail was far more prosaic and began with the Strawberry Daiquiri in the 1980s.

I’ve recreated it here.

In an era of all things big whether shoulder pads or tycoons, the one that stands out certainly held its own amidst 80s excess. It was the Carmen Miranda of cocktails, festooned with fruit and embellished with a rain shower of umbrellas. I could barely find a space on the rim from which to sip. What it lost in elegance though it made up for in enthusiasm.

The times and I moved on to many other creations including the Cosmopolitans made famous by Sex in the City. Like the shoes and frocks and the city itself, they were accessories for the friendships that centre the show. Friendships that entwined through shared pleasures and pain, misunderstanding and reapprochement.

So it felt right, in this my 50th birthday year, to try five new ones in the company of cherished friends.

Too, I already had a tradition of celebratory birthday cocktails although these events have not been entirely without incident. On my 43rd, the festivities were cut short when I poured what I thought was water into a glass, gulped it down, felt very odd, collapsed onto the floor of the restaurant bar and was carried away in an ambulance. In an unexpected twist on the water into wine scenario my water turned out to be methylated spirits kept for cleaning purposes in an unmarked glass flip-topped ‘water’ bottle at the bar and handed to me when I asked for more water..oops…..

IMG_9008As with many things in life though there was a surreal and funny side to this experience as every medic I encountered that evening looked at my chart and said ‘oh it’s your birthday…

happy birthday’!

Fortunately there were no long lasting ill effects and if anything I felt more wary for a short time after, of water served to me in glass bottles than cocktails in snazzy glasses.

What better chance to sip my first new ones for the year than at the Opera Bar on Sydney Harbour on the night of my birthday. There my friend and I joined other convivial souls revelling in the balmy evening. Basking in birthday bliss, I enjoyedIMG_9260


Buds and Bubbles
Mango and Pomegranate Mojito

IMG_9266At another birthday celebration a few weeks later, I met with friends at a venue in the city called QT which is on the site of an iconic Sydney shop called Gowings. The old shop was an Alladin’s cave of treasures. In its current incarnation the venue retains some of that Alladin’s cave feel with retro themes throughout the restaurant, bars and hotel that now inhabit the space. Amidst these stylings, heritage is honoured in renovated old stairwells, in the display of memorabilia and in the friendly staff.

That evening, reclining happily (and perhaps slightly less vertically) as the evening progressed, with my friends in the upstairs lounge area I sipped

Gowings Sour
Watermelon and Coriander Caprioska

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