It’s just a tease, I know—not a promise. But when the weather suddenly turns beautiful in February, as it has here in Seattle for a few deliciously warm sunny days, I can’t help it. I get spring fever. I know we’ve still got a long haul until spring is here to stay—months of cool rainy weather to get through in fact—but this weekend. Oh, this weekend. I felt the sun on my bare arms, and put my sunglasses on for the first time in months. The sailboats went scudding around Lake Union and everyone in Seattle seemed to be at Greenlake on Sunday afternoon. I opened all the windows and let the breeze blow through the house. I stepped out into the garden to pick the last scrunchy curls of winter kale before I start planting again, and thought about seeds and steer manure.
And how could we not go to the UW Farmer’s Market and stroll around in the sunshine, talking to farmers and looking at eggs and grass-fed beef and honey and pastries and jam and…well, I get a little giddy when the sun comes out.
So maybe the spring fever was responsible for the all the Aperol this weekend. An Italian aperitif, Aperol is a pinky-orange cousin to Campari. I first tried Aperol just a few weeks ago in a cocktail with champagne and absinthe. It was, I must say, quite drinkable.
Then I saw a recipe for a dessert called Arance all’Aperol on delicious days, just about the time the sun came out. The combination of oranges and blood oranges soaked in vanilla sugar, lime zest and Aperol beckoned with a promise of utter simplicity and a glow of brilliant colors– the impossible pinks and oranges of a Caribbean sunset, or a bouquet of spring tulips.
I knew this had to be the next installment in my dessert initiative. And after my oranges had soaked in their pretty bath, they became something surprisingly delicious. A little sweet, but more complicated than that, with a dizzying array of flavors dancing together like a taste of spring. The recipe suggested adding whipped cream or custard, but it did just fine on its own.
But there was still a lot of sunny weekend left, and a lot of Aperol left in the bottle, too. Somehow, in the course of a few warm days, I became a devotee to kombucha. I’d been hearing about this fermented tea drink in magazines and all over the internet, so I decided to try some and I fell madly in love with its hints of sweet and tart, its whisper of fizzy fermentation. I had to get more from the store as soon as I finished the first bottle. Now, all of the health claims made about kombucha may not be true, but it certainly is delicious.
And just like that, inspiration struck. I looked back and forth between the bottle of Aperol and the citrus flavored kombucha. A lightbulb turned on over my head, and I mixed a half ounce each of vodka and Aperol with a wine glass of kombucha.
The color of the Aperol was muted to a rosy peach. And this ice-cold cocktail tasted of spring itself—of picnics on lush grass next to a slow-moving river, of whispers and giggles, croquet and Easter dresses and pink toenail polish.
As soon as you see the sun, do not hesitate. Mix some up and share it with your girlfriends, or your sisters, or your book club.