Time for a drink

I’m back on the bread-making cycle again. Today marking Day 22 of official house arrest here.

The mental exhaustion of even having to write about lockdown is inspiring me to simply avoid talking about the subject. We’ve been out to receive our second vaccine, to pick up and drop off the girls and, then, this morning, under the cover of 4:45am darkness, I ran my first 5kms in 12 weeks, up and down my street, masked up and nodding to two other violators of Saigon’s current rules.

Trying to stay sane, whatever it takes, we seem to be making only minimal progress here – a few steps forward, a few back again.

And so, as I prepared the next bread proof for baking this morning, I also infused some gin with lemon peel, and some Campari with a fresh chili. Because today, dear reader, is the start of “Negroni Week” and, in a delightful Broadsheet article, Doug Wallen was decent enough to share a new recipe to celebrate the forthcoming revelry.

It took me literally seconds to read his suggestion before getting to work concocting, what I am sure, will be a suitably spicy and energising lift to our Monday evening…

I drank my first Negroni in Dhaka, around six years ago, with friends Jamie and Ridwan, a couple I was visiting whilst on a work trip there.

Jamie and Ridwan happened to be in Melbourne, in January 2018, when Issy’s Mum hosted our engagement party, and were happy to imbibe this tremendous cocktail with us again, dressed to the nines as we all were, in our best garden party garb.

In Atlanta, and in Bangkok, we’ve staged yet more Negroni sessions with these two – it never seems to be a difficult “sell” in their company.

As Anthony Bourdain used to proclaim, about the lethal red drink, a Negroni makes for a great apéritif and digestif, and can be enjoyed in the sun, or also by the fire in the winter. Be warned, however, of over consumption – this is a glass of pure, unadulterated rocket fuel.

And, once you’ve then tired of the traditional Rosso, Campari, and Dry Gin blend, there are a myriad of cheeky hacks that can be bestowed upon the classic Negroni: pink peppercorns, rhuburb, ginger, caramel, egg white, peach bitters, cherry, frangelico – to name but a few of the many infusions and crafty sprinkles that I’ve read about, or sampled.

In Copenhagen, we sipped on Winter Negroni’s (cinnamon and star anise) after swimming in the sea – in December, no less – and earlier that same year, in New Orleans during a “Southern Decadence” weekend, it was a White Negroni (mixing Suze and Lillet Blanc) that kicked off a memorable day at a local Country Club.

Whilst mindful of over-indulgence, but in lieu of right now having lost our freedom to go out, to run, to travel, to move oneself physically forward during discombobulating times, I will be embracing this year’s “Negroni Week” (like the marketeer’s dream customer that I am).

I will enjoy the memories of the places I’ve been, the times I’ve had, and my lucky stars – soothed on the palate by that unmistakably fragrant burn – will once again be counted.