Rosewater and rosé: a few of my favorite things

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When I was younger, I prided myself on not being very “girly,” despising most of the frou frou things that girls were supposed to like (shopping, giggling, drinking cosmos) and keeping mostly male friends. While this led to many wonderful things (learning to like whiskey, saving lots of money), as I got older I surprisingly found myself feeling like something was missing, not unlike some phantom limb that was, surprisingly, soft-skinned, sweet-perfumed, and pink.

I spent a bit of time deciding what felt right and didn’t feel right about empowering and embodying my feminine side. Nail polish? All right, that seems fun. Getting in touch with my feelings? A little scary, but sure, that probably seems like a good thing to learn to do. Making more girlfriends? Well, turns out I just needed to meet the right kinds of girls. Objects covered in glitter? Uhhh… no thanks. Don’t be obscene. Eventually I embraced two little, feminine pleasures that give me a little lift and feel indulgent and sweet (because, as I discovered, one of the most wonderful things that the feminine persona truly embraces is the absolute selfish and frivolous pleasure of little indulgences) – anything rose-scented and pink wine.

Rose, on my mom’s side, is a family name – it’s her middle name, which she got from a great aunt of hers. To me, roses evoke a genteel, familial ease, and an effortless femininity from their delicacy and sweet smell. The smell of roses is nearly exclusively feminine, unlike many other scents that I love (cedar, pine, musk), and though roses of course come in many colors, the image that immediately comes to my mind is a huge, ruffled, stuffed-full, delicately pink cabbage rose.

Pink wine? Well, lets just say that I was drinking rosé before it became cool to drink rosé.

I decided to roll out this cocktail in time for Valentine’s day because, of course, you need a pink cocktail for Valentine’s day, either to make for your sweetie or to drink at home, crying to your cat (not what I did last Valentine’s day… ahem), or celebrating your friendships with your girlfriends. It has the scent and flavor of roses in it, of course, but it also has another ingredient that gives me a little kick of joy – Lillet Rose. I’d always loved rosé, and my love for Lillet goes back to long before anyone I knew even considered the possibility of an aperitif, so when I discovered that they’d combined the two, I thought yes, that’s for me! Yet this cocktail isn’t cloying or overly perfume-y, but is in fact quite well balanced. I served this once at a cocktail party along with a few other diverse libations and this one emerged as the favorite, men and women alike. My hope is that this cocktail convinces you that pink cocktails can go far beyond a Sex and the City-style Cosmo (no offense if you like Cosmos… I think), and in fact can open up a whole new, softer, subtler world of pink drinks. Go ahead, indulge your pinky, rosy feminine side.


Gin and Roses (adapted from here)

2 oz Lillet Rose

1 oz floral-forward gin (I used St. George Botanivore)

1 oz rose simple syrup (see below)

Rose simple syrup

1 part edible rosewater

1 part water

2 parts sugar

To make the simple syrup, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved.  Let cool completely.

To make the cocktail, shake all ingredients heartily in a chilled cocktail shaker with ice until your arms start getting tired.  Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a strip of lemon peel, after squeezing it over the drink to release the oils.  Enjoy!

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