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.

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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.

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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.

marycake

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

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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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