You move to a new city, in a new country. You’ve found an apartment that is just the right price, in just the right neighbourhood, and after pulling out your bestest, most adultest, and politest set of manners, you endear yourself adequately to the building manager. The place is yours. Your first year there, you lovingly labour over each room, each nook, each corner. In fits of manic inspiration, you put up wallpaper and take a toothbrush to the bathroom tiles. You spend what feels like an obscene amount of money on a couch, and install bookshelves. You put the bed in three different rooms before you finally realise the first room was the best, after all. You buy the first wave of plants you will kill. You make a home.
Then, one early morning, you hear the din of hammers and the voices of construction workers who converse entirely in staccato SHOUTS. Something is amiss. Suddenly, there is debris everywhere in the lobby that, quite literally, spreads like a fog of noxious gas throughout the whole building. Finally, the building manager tells you: The landlord is doing some light renovations in the basement, and the project shouldn’t take more than a few months.
Six years later, the project isn’t even close to finished. After caved in ceilings, countless power interruptions, water shut-offs, internet disruptions that seem to happen only when you are in the middle of work, and fire alarms that go off for no reason, that no one seems to know how to turn off, that are so loud your dog is deaf….after all this, you receive a notice: You have to move out at the end of your lease. You have, rather unceremoniously, become a statistic — you have been “renovicted.” Renovicted. Like Brangelina, or Bennifer, only this nomenclature couple du jour is facilitated by a landlord (in your case, the failson of a billionaire with a giant chip on his shoulder and something to prove to daddy) and a legal loophole but, unlike the pairing of celebrities, no one seems to care.
So you find a new place, under time constraint and duress. It is twice the amount of what you were paying because the city you live in, once famous for its affordable rent and thus a mecca for artists, is now going through an unprecedented housing crisis. Rents are at an all-time high. But never mind, there’s air-conditioning! And two toilets! And a big kitchen with an island! All the meals you’ll be inspired to make instead of ordering from UberEats will surely cover at least a third of the rent. It’s worth it.
Within the first three days, the washing machine breaks. Then the microwave. Then you discover a leak under the kitchen sink. While unpacking boxes, you see a shadow scurry across the floor. You are not hallucinating. There are mice. Like, a lot of mice. The air conditioner starts groaning and then spewing black water all over the walls and floors before it resigns completely. In the middle of a heatwave. You have lived in this apartment for less than two weeks.
There is a cocktail for every occasion. Sitting in swelter at the kitchen table with my feet surreptitiously tucked in my lap so as to not run into any critters on the dash, I don’t even allow myself to wonder what other calamity might be en route, lest I inadvertently manifest it into existence. And as far as the right cocktail* for this moment goes* I need a drink that is reliable and goddamn refreshing.
A sour is mercifully dependable. So I’ve been making a version with berries, mint, and gin. Berries, because I forgot I bought them and they are about to go bad. Mint, because the cooling effect of menthol is much needed. Gin, because it does what it’s supposed to do and doesn’t gaslight me like my landlord. Shaken up, because I have plenty of pent-up frustration to help aerate a drink into dazzling deliciousness. I bet even the mice will enjoy.
*a water glass of mezcal with a plate of salted lime wedges has also been in rotation.
Reliable, Refreshing Sour
- 3-4 berries (I’ve been using strawberries or raspberries)
- Handful of mint leaves
- 60 ml gin
- 30 ml fresh lime juice or ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
- 22 ml simple syrup
Put a coupe in the freezer to chill. Gently squeeze the mint leaves in your hand before placing in your shaker tin. Add berries and briefly muddle. Add other ingredients and fill the shaker with ice. Shake for about 12-16 seconds and strain into your chilled coupe. Raise your glass and take in a moment of gratitude that at least the tub works, but not before making sure there is something wooden nearby for you to knock on. Drink immediately, exhale. Repeat as needed — just be sure to stay hydrated.