Like any restless YA protagonist, I could not wait to escape my hometown. It was hot, dusty, smelled heavily of cow, and I (along with my vampire novel obsession) never really fit in. So when I picked up I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, I felt like someone had just published my teenage diaries. I grew up in the same area as Skylar -- the Central Valley of California -- and everything about this novel rang so true. The omnipresent train sounds, the orchards everywhere, the dust that coats everything in the summertime, Highway 99, the small-town vibe, the boys who drive big trucks and listen to Metallica/Kid Rock/Sublime even now, going to Denny's at 2am to order Moons Over My Hammy because there's nothing else to do, and especially wanting nothing more than to escape to San Francisco State University. (I never made it to SFSU for undergrad, but did end up in San Francisco for law school.)
So, of course this book deserves a (punny) cocktail!
If you're not from the Central Valley, you might not realize that it produces a huge amount of America's produce, including almonds -- in fact, the Central Valley produces 80% of the world's almond supply. As a nod to the area, I included orgeat in this recipe, a spiced almond syrup that is often used in tiki drinks. I've also included pears (which grow well in certain regions of the valley) -- you roast them and combine them with a little lime juice and clove to make a puree.
My dad works for a major chicken and turkey supplier in the region, so I grew up getting to occasionally visit egg ranches and hatcheries. That's why this cocktail also includes an egg white, which smooths the sharp edge of the scotch (the peat) and gives it a light and fluffy sort of feeling. (You can get pasteurized egg whites if you're worried about using raw eggs.)
If you have a cocktail sword, spear a garnish (I used a paper-thin slice of pear, but a brandied cherry or lemon twist would work too) as a nod to Josh and his service in the Marines.
I'LL PEAT YOU PEAR
Makes one cocktail
- 2oz scotch
- 1 egg white
- 1oz (about one tablespoon) roasted pear puree (recipe follows)
- 0.75oz orgeat
- 0.5oz honey
- 0.5oz lime juice
- 3 dashes bitters
Combine all ingredients in a large shaker WITHOUT ICE (this is a "dry shake") and shake for 30 seconds, or until frothy. Add ice and shake for at least 30 seconds more, or until the shaker is icy cold. Strain into a cocktail coupe and garnish.
ROASTED PEAR PUREE
Makes 1+ cups, depending on how big your pears are
- 2 very ripe pears
- Brown sugar, for sprinkling
- 3.5 tbsp lime juice
- Ground cloves
Preheat your oven to 350F. Peel, core, and slice pears into eights, sprinkle with brown sugar. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the pear slices are very soft. Let cool.
Puree the pears with the lime juice and a sprinkle of ground cloves (no more than 1/8 tsp--cloves can overwhelm) until very smooth. A food mill works really well for this!
Week 1: November 2015 calendar + giveaway of signed book
Week 2: Cocktail recipe
Week 3: Guest post from Heather Demetrios
Week 4: Character quiz + giveaway of handwritten love letter
Psst -- if you live in the U.S. and own a copy of I'll Meet You There, you can email your proof of purchase to [email protected] for a signed bookplate and bookmark from Heather!