I sit at the far end of a long table. I make eye contact with the patron at the other end and simply ask if it’s okay that we share the last lone table available at the cafe/bakery that we are both indulging in on this fall day. From the looks of the weather channel, it is one of the last fall days to be had in these parts. Colder weather is on its way and you can feel it in the air. Actually, I think you can smell it. The elderly lady is here with husband, I followed them in – more like tailgated since I walk at warp speed and come upon people much faster than I or they expect. I should wear a badge that says ‘I am closer than I appear’. They bought two croissants and 2 cups of coffee. With cream. They are ridiculously cute in that manner in which they aren’t aware of and have no intention of being. It just is. They just are. A great thing that comes about when you are 75.
He wears a unmarked tan baseball cap, with a curved bill that is undeniably midwestern. His eyes are milky, blue, and kind. She wears a heavier coat than is necessary for the temperature outside, however I am sure she is cold 98% of the time. Her gray hair is short, coming to a stop just below her chin – which come to think of it seems rather long for someone beyond 65. They sit and eat in silence and I wonder how long they have been married. Her wedding band sits on her wrinkled left hand in that manner announcing it has sat and swiveled there for decades. Carving out and shaping the space between the knuckle and first joint of her ring finger.
As they finish their coffee and brush the crumbs of croissant from their clothes and slowly make their way to the front door, I wonder what they looked like as a couple in their 20’s or 30’s. I will probably never see them again.
I am left alone at the long table with my thoughts and a blank page and cursor that beats as steady as a metronome. I pay for a coffee refill from the cute bearded barista who thinks I probably have a coffee addiction, but doesn’t judge when I buy a second cookie. I look up each time the door chimes with a new customer, thinking it might be a familiar face. I am expecting zero company. It is the only procrastination offered here.
I have a bourbon and apple cider cocktail to share. I have nothing witty and snappy to say of this boozy cider besides I have drank a fair share of them this past week and while it may be the booze talking, they are damn good. That is all. Damn. Good. I would welcome them warm after a long day of work or poured over ice after an afternoon of raking leaves. And with a holiday creeping up on us where families are smashed into dining rooms and kitchens and where all bets are on crazy uncle Joe as the wild card this year…booze is a necessity and cocktails are a nice shake up to the usual bottle(s) of wine.
Apple cider, reduced down by 1/2 to 2/3 – depending on your patience or uncanny ability to completely forget you have something bubbling away on the stovetop. Nothing above a simmer or you will undoubtedly scorch and burn your apple cider, errrr apple cider syrup. The cocktail was delightful shaken and poured over ice with a few slices of orange added (omitted from pictures because. well, because I ate the orange). Refreshing if poured into a tall glass and finished with club soda. Nice and bubbly. Comforting, if poured into a coffee mug and finished off with steaming hot water (or tea??). The possibilites, endless. The boozy relaxation – right on point.
- 3 cups Apple Cider
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 ounces Apple Cider Syrup
- 1 + ½ ounces bourbon
- orange slices (optional)
- sparkling water/club soda (optional)
- hot water or tea (optional)
- In a medium saucepan combine apple cider, cinnamon sticks, and brown sugar. Place over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Let mixture simmer until it has reduced by ½ to ⅔. It will thicken slightly and leave you with 1 to 1+1/2 cups of syrup. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. You may want to line strainer with cheese cloth to catch any fine sediment from cinnamon sticks. I am not bothered by this - fiber, no? At this point, you can place in fridge and use when ready for cocktails or use right away.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider syrup and bourbon. Give the cocktail a good shake (about 20 to 30 seconds). Strain cocktail into short tumbler (lowball glass) that is also filled with ice. Garnish with orange slices (optional) and enjoy.
- Strain cocktail into a highball glass and finish off with sparkling water and orange slices.
- Warm apple cider syrup in microwave or by stovetop. Combine bourbon and warm apple cider syrup in coffee mug. Finish off with boiling water or hot tea (cinnamon or orange would be perfect).