The Summer Porch Tonic

When I was in college, I lived in a house that had a great porch. The house was on a hillside, so there was a half flight of stairs leading up to it, and down below, you could see the garden, full of lavender and rosemary and sage, that the landlady had planted in a moment of generosity.

We spent a lot of time on the porch when the weather was nice. I often would take coffee out, mid-morning, read Proust or whatever novel I was trying to work through for class and listen to various classical composers, mostly Faure. In the afternoons, people would drop by and if we didn’t feel like working, we might dig up a bottle of wine or if we did have work, a cup of tea.

And then there were Fridays. Around 4pm, we decided the week was done and we had earned our moment of respite. Out would come the various cocktails, the chilled Portuguese vinho verde, and of course, my good old standard gin and tonic. My housemate at the time had been creating all sorts of simple syrups, so it was more often than not, a ginger or lavender g&t. Then, we branched out briefly to cognacs and tonics, an lovely summer drink some French friends had shown us.

So this summer, being back in Los Angeles, where the weather is almost always perfect for lounging about outside, I’ve been craving a porch. The other evening I realized being out of gin (when was the last time that happened!), I couldn’t go to my old standby. I have the strangest assortment of liquors and liqueurs here after creating those once made, never repeated drinks from some food magazine or from some old relative’s musty collection, labels pealing away, when they decided to clean house.

I rummaged and this is what I made: a limoncello-sherry tonic. Limoncello is an Italian liqueur made from lemons, sugar and vodka. And if you’re feeling adventurous here’s the recipe, which I’m calling a Summer Porch Tonic:

The Summer Porch Tonic

2 parts sherry (preferably a sweeter, cream variety)
1 part limoncello
1/2 small lemon
tonic water

Fill a glass with ice. Pour sherry in and then limoncello. Squeeze the lemon, adding the juice to the mixture. Top with tonic water. Add the now squeezed lemon slice and stir.


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