Fig and Bourbon Fizz

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I know I probably say this all the time, but this was one of the most stressful weeks of my life.

Having just arrived home from Europe on Saturday, I went to work on Monday kind of excited — I knew after having been gone for a couple of weeks, my team would probably have some exciting projects in the works.

That part was very true. Lots of good stuff will be coming from the Energy Department digital team in the next couple of months.

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What I did not anticipate was a barrage of disasters from freelance clients. So, instead of having a leisurely week back from vacation with some nice projects for the day job, I spent sleepless nights putting together draft after endless draft of the same infographic 8 billion different ways. Today, I woke up early to start wireframing a project that’s been on my calendar for upwards of a month (I love people who plan ahead), but the disaster projects were over, so it was actually pretty therapeutic.

But yesterday, in the midst of the crisis and after two nights with minimal sleep and maximum stress, I attempted to write a blog post on my lunch break. That was an epic fail. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t write a sentence that wasn’t a form of frustration venting about nightmare projects. And right at that moment, I had an epiphany. It is 100 percent unacceptable to let myself get that stressed out over a freelance project. So I drew a line. I closed my computer, went back to the office, and worked on day job projects that I enjoy. And then, I went to dinner with Shaeda, who graciously dealt with my venting and reassured me that quitting all of freelancing was not the solution. Thanks, girl.

Anyway, two cocktails and an order of lobster guacamole later, I was at peace. But maybe that was just the booze.

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In the short interval between Europe and that disastrous work week, Nikki invited me to #figfest at a friend’s apartment. And fig fest it was — there was fig chutney and fig crostini… and fig and bourbon cocktails. What I would do to have one of these for happy hour tonight.

Recipe below. Missed y’all!

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Fig and Bourbon Fizz, from My Recipes

Makes enough for one drink — so multiply accordingly.

1 fresh, whole fig
6ish fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
Ice cubes
1/2 cup ginger ale
Mint sprig for garnish

Tools: cocktail shaker, something to muddle with

First, muddle the fig, mint leaves, and brown sugar in your cocktail shaker. You’ll want to break the fig down pretty well. Then, add bourbon and enough ice cubes to fill the shaker up. Cover with the lid and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds.

Strain into a glass or jar filled with ice cubes, and top with ginger ale to taste and a mint leaf. Drink immediately.

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Vanilla-Bourbon Cherries

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Let’s be honest. It’s 2 AM.

I almost poured myself a glass of straight bourbon ten minutes ago. I’ll be working late all week on Google projects, so I really should get to bed (and save the bourbon for a better occasion, perhaps, a real-life handsome stranger).

Anyhoo, there will be plenty of use for these cherries this weekend. We’ll be making Manhattans on Sunday.

I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have inspiration for a real post tomorrow. In the meantime, happy Tuesday :)

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Vanilla-Bourbon Cherries

Fresh cherries — preferably the dark red ones
Lots of bourbon — I use Bulleit, which has vanilla undertones to begin with
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
One vanilla bean per jar of cherries

Wash your cherries over a strainer in the sink, and remove the pits using a cherry pitter. If you’re like me, and too cheap to buy one, just poke them out with the blunt end of a chopstick… carefully. Discard the pits, and set your pitless cherries aside in a bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat the vanilla extract and the sugar until the sugar is all dissolved. With such small measurements, the solution will turn syrupy quickly. We don’t want it too syrupy, so just take the pot off the heat when it starts boiling and the sugar is entirely dissolved.

Now, we want to get vanilla beans into the syrup. I preserve my vanilla beans soaking in vodka (homemade vanilla extract!) which makes it really easy to extract the beans. If you do this too, simply snip off the tip of the bean with scissors or a sharp knife, and squeeze the vanilla beans into the syrup.

If you’re working with dry beans, slice the pod lengthwise, and use a knife to scrape the beans out before stirring them into your syrup.

From this point on, we’re just assembling and waiting. Fill a clean jar with your pitted cherries, and then pour your syrup into the jar. Then, fill whatever space is left in the jar with bourbon. Screw on the top, securing the lid tightly, and give the  jar a shake.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. The cherries should be good for a few weeks. Put them on ice cream, in cocktails, or on a toothpick for a sweet snack.