Well, it’s 2011, and one of my goals is to not be so excited about vodka. But first! I got super, super excited about vodka!
There are a lot of really awesome things this year about the January Living, an issue usually devoted to detoxing on clear broths and housework. Some recurring features were moved around or reconfigured, such as the new Make and Give section, which replaces the insipid Save Room For… page at the end and may even be a better idea than the original Cookie of the Month feature that was axed in the great Living Makeover of 2009.
Likewise, it seemed like someone over there finally realized that Martha’s Calendar comes across as a giant, gloomy “Screw you guys, I’m sooo wealthy and put-together.” I, for one, loved the Gentle Reminders section as was, and that general idea looks like it’s back in a combined calendar/tip list called Martha’s Month.
The other major improvements (Perfect Palette and Classic Living) are just fine-tuning the New Way, in which Living makes money through product placement. I’m not judging, every other magazine I get does the same thing. And at least they got rid of that awful Style section not long after it burst onto the Martha scene, telling us all where to purchase the crispest blazers.
And, you’ll be happy to know, Sharkey’s back! I won’t spoil it for you, but look forward to a feature of our own that we’re going to call “Getting Snarky with Sharkey.”* That’s right! A column dedicated to Martha’s BFF and his special, very intense brand of productivity.
The most surprising aspect of the January issue is the way it resisted getting all Spartan on us. While certainly focusing on new beginnings, the recipes were hearty and the tone lively. One could even say “spirited.” One could even say “infused spirits.”
And with that graceful segue, I bring you Star Anise, Dried Chile, and Cardamom Infused Vodka! Because Martha isn’t interested in drying us out!
Dudes, this is probably one of the most incredible and hard to describe tastes that I have ever encountered. Plus, it’s easy. You just put crap in a bottle and let it sit there. I chose this one because it sounded good and because I had all the ingredients on hand, including a massive amount of vodka leftover from the most epic birthday party of all time. You mix the spicy concoction with ginger ale, for a cocktail that you have never tasted before.
I mean, seriously. This stuff had LEVELS of flavor. I don’t know what those levels are, but they were very new and satisfying to me, and I wish I had quadrupled instead of tripled the recipe. At the New Year’s Eve party at my pals Pete and Victoria’s house, the brew was a big hit. Or, at least, all 4.5 cups of it had been consumed by the time we left, and people were wiggling around on the dance floor like professionals. I deduce that it was enjoyed.
I’m going to start sticking everything in vodka. Thanks, Martha, for a seriously good tip. I take back almost every crack I’ve made about you. But not Sharkey. That dude needs to cool it.
How to make your own:
Put one dried arbol chile, one star anise, and two cardamom pods in 1.5 cups of vodka. Seal in some sort of airtight glass container. Let it sit for 24 hours or so. Mix with ginger ale. Give the cocktail whatever name you choose. Prepare for a hangover.
*I keep running this idea by Lesley and she keeps smiling noncomittally, so we’ll see if this actually flies.