I was in a floral print mini skirt and a black leather bomber jacket that smelled of cigarettes and musky perfume (Malibu Musk, to be exact). The jacket matched my favourite combat boots and a scarf in the same print as the skirt held my hair back in a high pony tail in that 1950s-preppy-meets-punk-rock-grunge style that was so popular in the 90’s. A pair of Ray-Bans perched atop my head. I felt so grown up at 17.
Aerosmith had just released their Nine Lives album, headlining with a song called Pink, and my hometown was one of the first stops on the tour. We had terrible seats, my friends and I, possibly the worst in the house – up in the very last row of the balcony, next to the dark, grimy back wall of the arena on which guys would surreptitiously pee when they didn’t want to miss the show. But we didn’t care. To us the seats were perfect. We were free up there in the “nose-bleed” section. Free in a way that can only be experienced within the constraints of the universe surrounding 17 year olds on the cusp of adulthood, but not quite there yet. Except, on that night we were.
I saw Aerosmith again in ’99 at the Monza Rock Festival outside of Milan. It was pouring rain. And once more in ’03 under the stars at Red Rocks in Denver when they were on tour with KISS, but neither compares to that first show as a wild, free-spirited teenager. I haven’t listened to that album in years. You could say my taste in music has… evolved. But to this day I can’t hear those songs without getting more than a bit nostalgic in the same way a girl does about, say, her first sip of pink champagne, her first bottle of perfume, or maybe her first kiss. I mention all this because, as I was making this cocktail, Aerosmith’s “Pink” came on the radio and I was suddenly 17 again, in the back of that arena, rocking out with my friends and trying not to get peed on.
If you follow me on Instagram then you know I run a bespoke cocktail series on and off every Thursday or Friday afternoon. Most of the drinks are inspired by music – The Beatles, Def Leppard, Billy Joel, and now Aerosmith. Many of the recipes appear only there, but a lucky few make it over here to the blog. This one made the cut!
The hardest part of that series is choosing a name. I’m always influenced by the environment around me, the weather, seasonal ingredients and, of course, the music on the radio, so when it came to naming this one, the first thing that came to mind was “Pink” – since that’s what I was listening to and because the colour of the cocktail is so brilliantly cherry pink! Then, for a brief moment, I considered the lyrics of that song – “Pink as the bing on your cherry” – but quickly decided against that idea! Maybe I’d call it “Pretty Please (with a cherry on top)” – likely the phrase I used when begging my parents’ permission to go to that concert in the first place. In the end, though, I settled on “Cerise Chérie.” It had a nice ring.
I like to leave my future self little presents. For instance, I always tuck a few dollars in the pocket of my heaviest winter coat at the beginning of spring so that next winter, when it’s terribly cold I might reach into my pocket and find the money just as I’m thinking about how much I’d love to stop in at a coffee shop for an espresso. Or perhaps I might be walking by a homeless person on the street and wishing a had a few dollars to pass on.
Often I write myself helpful little notes with advice that might come in handy someday, and leave them in places where my future self will be sure to find them. Inside the Christmas tree box, for example, I left a note saying:
Dear future Bec,
Do yourself a favor and remember to put the x-mas lights on before fluffing the tree. You’re welcome.
Love, your past self
That’s what happened with this post. I wrote it years ago, on my old blog, Pure and Peanut Free, but it didn’t seem the time or the place to publish it. So I tucked it away in the draft folder, like money in a pocket, thinking I’d find it there later. Shortly after, I started Cerise Chérie. The name was, in fact, inspired by this drink, which was inspired by that Aerosmith song. But still, the timing wasn’t right, cherries weren’t in season, and so it sat, with the drafts, until it was forgotten.
Fast forward to today. I’m working on writing a cookbook and perusing images to be used in the book when I stumble across these and think, “Oh my gosh! Where is that recipe because I have to include it?!”
After some digging, based on the dates embedded in the photos, I found the recipe buried where I left it, deep in the depths of cyberspace, neatly folded within the files of an inactive website – a story and recipe in turn-key condition, written but never published. Forgotten. What a wonderful little surprise from my past self! And just at the right time and in the perfect place – a book and blog of the same name … and cherry season is right on the horizon.
Now I’m thinking that it should go in the book, as well…and after looking at the photos I’m also thinking, “Maybe you should try digging up that cherry pink dress, next, because that would look awesome with a leather jacket and combat boots.”
Here’s to our past selves!
This drink is fresh and bright. It’s not as sweet or fruity as most summer cocktails, and complex enough, even with just three ingredients, to satisfy a true gin lover.
for the cherry simple syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
8 sweet red cherries
a few drops of pure vanilla extract
for the cocktail:
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. cherry simple syrup
2 oz. London Dry Gin (Beefeater is my favourite)
To make the syrup, halve the cherries, but leave the pits intact. Combine the water, sugar and cherries in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high until the mixture comes to a boil (this is about a minute in my microwave). Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and let the cherries steep in the syrup until complete cool, at least half an hour. Add the vanilla. Once cool, strain into a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
Alternately, the syrup can all be made in a saucepan on the stove.
For each cocktail add 1/2 an ounce of lemon juice, 1/2 an ounce of cherry syrup and 2 ounces of gin to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until very cold and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a cherry!