The Tom Cat cocktail from The Hygge Life.

The Tom Cat

While I can’t believe January is almost over, I’m also relieved that January is almost over. This is my least favorite time of year, and furry blanket and globe lights aside, I’m eager for the trees to have leaves on them again and for a 60-degree day to be a normal one rather than a data point either supporting or denying the existence of climate change. At least this weekend we get a respite of sorts from football, so for the first time since September our neighborhood will not be run amok by people trolling for parking spots to hit up the bars all day. Next weekend, on the other hand, should be interesting—while the Ravens aren’t in the Super Bowl (obviously), we are close enough to Philly that there are many an Eagles fan around here too, so I have a feeling we’ll be staying firmly in our apartment after Michael returns home from the gym. We do have some excellent food plans for that day, so I’m not complaining.

One upside to this month is that aside from going to the Women’s March downtown and then going to Rockville to have a pretty amazing dinner last weekend, we’ve been delightfully unscheduled during our weekends. After a very hectic autumn it’s been precisely what we’ve needed to decompress a bit, and it’s been a lot of fun diving into our various cookbooks and making all kinds of food for just the two of us.

We’ve also been experimenting a bit with cocktails, and this one from The Hygge Life is an unexpected and tasty drink. Given its ingredients it’s also a quite bracing one, making it perfect for sipping slowly while you do your dinner prep and half-watch reruns of Top Chef. The combination is anything but expected: equal parts gin and mezcal along with sweet vermouth and bitters, shaken and strained into a cocktail glass. The original recipe calls for homemade bitters and dehydrated grapefruit zest, but my version uses Angostura bitters and a fresh zest of orange peel instead. (This is mainly because this was what I had on hand when I made it most recently; I’ve also used fresh grapefruit peel too.) The various botanicals (between the gin and the vermouth and the bitters) pair surprisingly well with the smokiness of the mezcal, and despite there being zero mixers involved here, the drink doesn’t have that medicinal-like taste to it that you otherwise may expect. It’s a great drink to kick off a small dinner party as it almost immediately relaxes you—a great feature when you’re coming inside on a cold day—and can bring about those feelings of coziness all the more quickly. We still have 53 days to go before it’s officially spring, so you still have plenty of time to make this in order to lean into that hygge life, and I think you’ll be very happy you did.

The Tom Cat

adapted from The Hygge Life

For one cocktail (can be easily doubled to make two at a time):

  • 2 oz gin
  • 2 oz mezcal
  • 1 ½ oz sweet vermouth
  • 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Garnish of fresh orange or grapefruit peel, any pith removed

In a large cocktail shaker filled three-quarters of the way with ice, combine everything but the garnish; shake well for at least 30 seconds or until the shaker is cold. Strain and pour into cocktail glass, serving immediately.

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