In football, the term strong side refers to the side of the offensive line (left or right) that has one more player on it. It’s considered to be the better direction to run toward because there will be more blocking for the running back, and therefore more holes in the defense. I love football, but I don’t often think of it as being a metaphor for life, although I know many people who feel as though it is! The idea of the strong side, however, is something in which I can find deeper meaning. When we’ve come to a crossroads in our life and we have a decision to make, it helps to know where the strong side is. Theoretically, this is the direction in which opportunities will open up for us, where we’ll meet less opposition, and ultimately where there will be a greater likelihood for success. But what about when the tight end goes into motion? We’d better be paying attention because this means that the strong side is shifting and we may have to move in a completely new direction, sometimes with very little warning. And then there will be those times when the ball is in our hands and we take those first few steps, only to realize that the opportunity is not there. We’re going to have to go it the hard way, make our own openings, and create our own success. This path may be more difficult, but it can end up being the one that’s most rewarding, and ironically, the one that draws on our strongest personal side. Navigating tough decisions requires constant vigilance on our parts, or to borrow a cliché from football (or sports in general), we’ve got to keep our heads in the game at all times!
Today’s cocktail is called The Strong Side, of course, and it is a riff on a South Side, one of my favorite drinks. The South Side is very simple and straightforward, containing only gin, lemon juice, mint, and simple syrup. It’s a very subtle drink and one that can turn a person into a gin drinker after just one sip, especially if it’s made with a gin as mild as Plymouth. For The Strong Side, I kept the gin, substituted Fabrizia Limoncello liqueur for the lemon juice, a lemon peel simple syrup for the plain simple, and basil for the mint. I added one additional ingredient: Krogstad Aquavit, a Scandinavian based liqueur flavored with star anise and caraway seeds. The Strong Side is reminiscent of a South Side, but the addition of the Aquavit (and the Fabrizia) makes it more alcoholic, more bracing, and more bold.
The Strong Side
1½ oz Plymouth gin
1 oz Fabrizia Limoncello liqueur
½ oz Krogstad Aquavit
½ lemon peel simple syrup*
Basil for muddling
Gently muddle the basil in the bottom half of shaker tin with the simple syrup. Add the remaining ingredients along with ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds or until very cold. Double strain into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy!
*Bring water 8 oz water to a boil and add 8 oz sugar. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a mason jar. Add lemon peels and let it steep. Remove the peels when the syrup has reached the intensity you’re looking for. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
Have a wonderful weekend!