One of my favorite things to do during summertime evenings is put on jazz and enjoy a refreshing cocktail. In so many of his books, F. Scott Fitzgerald paints the Jazz Age as a time when the hand was perpetually holding a champagne glass and the foot was constantly tapping along to a syncopated tune. But Princeton student Amory Blaine in This Side of Paradise reminds me how cocktail hour and the luxuries of adulthood are not a privilege; they are an earned right that can only be enjoyed after the ever-bumpy ‘coming of age’ progression.
This Side of Paradise is a novel that, though written and set almost a century ago, describes every college student’s slog. Throughout the novel, Amory learns to occupy the space between parental impact, proper mentorship, academic vocation, and relationships stopping and starting. Just as the punch of lemon zest blends with mature thyme and elegant pear, seemingly different components of Amory’s (and any eighteen-ish year old’s) life slowly come together and begin to make sense.
I am able to compare my own time at college with Amory’s from the calm of my back porch as a jazz melody softly plays from inside. Though my roaring twenties are far from over, I am able to enjoy a side of paradise that can only come from cocktail hour.
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
5 sprigs thyme
1 lemon (zest and juice)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 bottle champagne
1. Use a melon baller (also known as a Parisienne scoop) to make small pear balls. Put in freezer on parchment paper and leave for at least an hour.
2. In a small saucepan, add water, sugar, thyme, remaining pear trimmings, and lemon zest. Heat until sugar has dissolved, then set aside to cool down and infuse.
3. Strain simple syrup and shake over ice with vodka and lemon juice.
4. Fill about a third of your cocktail glass with the vodka mixture. Top with champagne. Garnish with frozen pear balls and lemon zest.
Enjoy this summery cocktail with This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and check in at warandpeach.wordpress.com for future recipes and book reviews. Cheers!