It’s Friday the 13th, and the day before France’s and my birthday– oh lordy, Washington, you’re in for a whole mess of trouble!
As I rattled off a list of increasingly elaborate specialty cocktails and hot-weather treats the other night that I’ve planned for Saturday, my friend Theon’s expression grew more and more amused. With a mildly sardonic grin, he sassed back, “So, you really like birthdays, huh?”
Well, sort of. I really like celebrations. Commemorating anything from anniversaries and birthdays to a promotion or new house: they all deserve parties. I see them as a way to show karma that I’m grateful for not being beaten up for once. Everyone should be thankful for the sweet things in life. I enjoy throwing parties just because it’s Thursday and I’m bored– but something legitimate, like a birthday? Oh, it’s going down.
Anyone from my pre-DC life is well acquainted with the legendary parties. Theme parties were a huge thing (Sally can attest to this; her Sexual Fetish Party was my favorite), but our celebrations were just as killer. But I haven’t actually thrown a party here yet. Potlucks, yes. Little 25-people soirees, sure. but parties? Not as I understand the definition. My own birthday has fallen through the cracks many-a-year. Last year, I’d just moved to DC and didn’t know many folks. My good friends on Team United Nations definitely made it a wonderful night, but it made it clear that I was no longer in my home of two decades, where I’d be instantly surrounded by 50+ friends and funnies the second I set foot outside my door.
This year, I plan to change that. And since I’m one of the best party planners I know, I’m taking the reigns for my own parade! So we’re going to have all sorts of fun yummies. There will be firecrackers/works. There may be a water balloon fight in the back alley. I also just bought a punch container from Target, which I plan to keep full all night.
If you know/meet me in real life, there is one thing you should know: I love whiskey. No, not in a “yay, whiskey sours are yummy, let’s make it sugar-rimmed!” way. I mean in a drink-neat-because-ice-dilutes-it way. [Though I do drink certain ones on the rocks.] I’ll hold back before I write a full post on whiskey instead of parties, like I planned, but that’s the bottom line: it isn’t a party without whiskey. And I’m not a happy birthday girl without my favorite, the ultimate whiskey drink:
the Old Fashioned:
Melt sugar in dash of water and bitters. Drop in cherry and orange; muddle [i.e. smash together with blunt object]. Pour in bourbon, fill with ice, and stir. Enjoy that you are now classy as fuck, and more likely to be friends with me. I just might have one for breakfast, to start my birthday off perfectly. Hey! There’s fruit in, so it’s healthy… right?
[Some add a splash of club soda; I am not one of those people. If I see you pour soda, grenadine, cherry juice, or any other contaminates into my Old Fashioned, I will smack you into next Tuesday. Don’t argue.]
Anyway, on to the really exciting treats prepared for tomorrow:
Orange Slice Jello Shots
Hands-down the coolest idea I’ve heard since home-brewed beer. Alright, maybe not that baller, but still pretty nifty.
STEP 1: make your vodka jello [or non-adult jello]. For two packets of jello, I did four cups boiling water, two cups cold, and two cups vodka.
STEP 2: You take large oranges and cut them in half. [I’m talking softball-sized.]
STEP 3: Scoop out the yummy parts– I used a thin spoon– and consume. Or save for later to make a rum bucket. [I swear I’m not an alcoholic.]
STEP 4: Now, don’t make the mistake I did and think that your jello-filled orange halves will stand up and not spill; you will be covered in jello. So fill a pyrex or cookie sheet with something to prop them up [I used uncooked lentils], fill the halves, nestle them into the dish, and pop into the fridge.
STEP 5: 4-5 hours later, take out, cut like a cantaloupe, and marvel at the brilliance of orange peel jello shots.
Strawberry Rum Popsicles
That’s right, kids: we can take every childhood memory and turn it into a fun, drunk party throwback!
STEP 1: Mix together your juice of choice, rum: two parts juice, one part rum.
STEP 2: Pour into freezable containers. I used these Dixie-type little plastic shot glasses. Rule of thumb: when debating which to get, remember it has to fit in your mouth. No showing off– make it enjoyable for everyone.
STEP 3: Put into freezer and forget about them; set alarm for 4+ hours later.
STEP 4: Check the freezing process. When there’s a substantial 1.4 inch slushy frost along the top, take out and shove sticks in. I found colorful drink stirrers at Target, instead of the wooden classics, but there are loads of options.
STEP 5: Return to freezer and actually forget about them until the next day, when you can bring guests melting from the heat to the fridge and surprise with icey goodness.
Use your head: it’s exactly what you think it is. That’s right! Vodka watermelon, everyone’s favorite! Not everyone? Well, more for me!
I’m not always a serious vodka-lover, but this is a case where it is absolutely called for. I keep passing the fruit vendors around Columbia Heights with naturally-impossible, gargantuan melons piled high in the back of their trucks. Every time I do, I imagine what a bitch they must be to carry home, or have the strong urge to insist on the massive one right at the bottom of the pile. Either way, the sight fills me with mischief, and I’m inspired to purchase and fill one with alcoholic glory.
It’s an easy process.
STEP 1: Purchase a plain-old-watermelon [preferably from one of those sketchy fruit-pushers on the street corner.]
STEP 2: Carve a hole in the top like a Jack-o-lantern. Make sure it cuts a few inches down into the red fruity bits. Keep plug for later.
STEP 3: This is where the time-consuming aspect comes in. Prop a funnel into the hole, and fill with vodka. Leave for awhile. Come back, and repeat.
STEP 4: Continue process until your melon is suitably intoxicated. For the giant one I’m going to buy today, I will likely use a good 2/3+ of a handle. And I chose a flavored vodka– you have to guess which one.
STEP 5: After a full night fermenting in inebriated wonder, bust it out mid-party and share the wealth.
Controversy: The marinating-process is a debated affair. Some people, like I was taught, use the “Funnel Method” [i.e. gradually returning to pour more into the funnel over a series of hours]. Others will cut the hole deep enough and upturn the entire bottle over the melon. This concept makes me nervous; I don’t want to return to a kitchen covered in vodka. I understand the physics of it, but still don’t trust it. I welcome feedback on the debate, though.
Jungle Juice: ginger ale, vodka, V8 Splash, possibly fruit and/or sorbet.
Skippy: beer, vodka, lemonade. As I like to keep regular drinks about for non-alcoholic friends, lemonade is always in the house. But with all the vodka around for a party, that also means one of my favorite summer beer-tails! And with a full keg [Yuengling, I think?], there will be plenty of beer.
In short: tomorrow will be a very long, spectacular show of intoxication, love, and magnificence. How will YOU be celebrating my birthday?