From Russia, with Love

When I was a lass, I had a book of Russian fairy tales called The Firebird. It was peopled by a host of grisly villains such as Koschei the Deathless. Koschei was able to rally, even when cut into tiny flesh cubes, crammed in a bottle and cast in the sea. He would emerge cranky, (understandably) to live another cruel day. To my young mind, Russia was a forbidding land of eternal winter and hags named Baba Yaga. However, I did note that the women wore fetching fur muffs as they rode in open sleighs right before being mauled by wolves.


By my middle grade years in the 1980’s, I lived in terror of the cold war turning hot. The day Mount Saint Helens blew, I saw the mushroom cloud and thought first of the Soviets, before I remembered that I lived near an active volcano.

In college I roomed, briefly, with a Slavic Studies major. She spoke wistfully of the glory days of the U.S.S.R., and threw back vodka shots. I was not an imbiber back then, but two decades on – now that life has had its capricious way with me – I require the occasional therapeutic cocktail.

The other night I was at my friend Kirstin’s, hoping for just such a therapeutic intervention, when she announced she was making Moscow Mules. I hid my skepticism. This is the friend who vaccinates my cat, assembles any furniture we buy that comes in more than two parts, and helped me bury a raccoon. That’s like sharing the womb.

Two ounces of whiskey, twelve of Q brand ginger beer, (the most bitey and least sweet available) and a few generous squeezes of lime later and I was generously reconsidering my complicated relationship with world’s largest country. I fancied I had discovered the secret to Koschei’s powers of rejuvenation. But hold on: whiskey? That didn’t sound right, (though it tasted right) and a quick consultation with Bon Appetit revealed that Moscow Mules are traditionally made with (naturally) vodka.


And so a new drink was born:  Kiki-B’s Klipspringer.* This is a woman who had a horse named after her once, and this drink – as she pointed out – is the workhorse of summer libation. No steeping or squeezing, no macerating, muddling or masticating required. Pour, pour some more, give a barely muscular squeeze of lime, and you’ve arrived. It’s summer, it’s hot, and we must conserve our energy in case there are more raccoons to inter. We can only hope.




*The Klipspringer is a spry little antelope that resides at the Cape of Good Hope.


One thought on “From Russia, with Love

  1. As always, your writing is witty, personal and informative. You have a way of making our escapades (animal burials, home improvement (we hope)) and daily trials (what’s for dinner? what’s to drink?) sound much richer. Thank you for spicing up my life! -Kirstin

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