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Pictured: The author with evidence of his two windfalls, eagerly anticipating the cool waters of Lake Michigan.
Advanced Water Purification (with Christopher Trepky)
– If you are feeling expeditious, please note that I get to the point in the third paragraph –

Frequent readers will have noticed by now that there is a strong theme of opportunism throughout my columns (as though writing a drinks column in a sartorial newsletter were not bold-faced enough), and today that theme shall show up in spades, for this week Em and I are on vacation near the little town of Montague, Michigan, on the shores of the vast, blue Great Lake that borders my home state’s west coast. Now it just so happens that, on Tuesday evening, I became acquainted with a local woman at the bookstore in town (don’t worry — we were there for a bourbon-tasting and talk by expert/author Reid Mittbueler) who described to us an old blueberry farm now on state land and open for picking to those in the know. Let me allay any doubts — Midwestern friendliness is what it’s cracked up to be.

So yesterday morning we met her at a gas station outside of town and followed her to a tiny grocery store/filling station way out somewhere on the state routes where we waited for her to run another errand and come back for us. By some strange twist of fate, this very establishment had a stack of old-school truck tire tubes out front, the very kind I had been mentioning just the day before, so Em and I bought two of the deflated variety (they travel easier) with plans to use them later. About 15 minutes later, our middle-aged, knitting-enthusiast guide pulled back up in her burbling 4-wheel-drive — just a touch of rust for color — and 10 more miles and a short hike later, we spent the afternoon picking blueberries and listening to the birds and black flies, sidling through woody thickets and darts of sunshine soaked in forest dust, the whole nine yards, and also probably 9 pounds of blueberries. It was wonderful.

It was also thirst-inducing, so after driving back, rinsing off the blueberries and inflating the big, black rubber tubes and rolling them out onto the lawn, I set straight to work to make — what else? — a blueberry daiquiri, and a blender-full at that. The blender drink is an interesting animal, and when it comes to whirling up a pitcher of icy-summer-scrumptious, I think consistency is for the birds. Simply go by taste, adding things slowly until you’re finished. I usually start with my limiting factor so I don’t find I have too little of it later on. In my case, this was limes, as I only had two. They yielded about 1/3 pint of juice, into which I dissolved about 4 spoonfuls of sugar (you want it a little sweeter than you’d think). At this point, I decided that, for easy eye-ballin’, I’d just top up the pint glass with blueberries, which I did; dumped it all in the blender; added to that a pint of rum since I was still holding the pint glass (Flor de Cana for me, but whatever you’ve got around); and a few hearty dashes of Angostura bitters (as flavor insurance, mostly); and mashed the smoothie button. Tasted pretty good — added a little more sugar and a pint of ice cubes (dilution is key, remember?), hit it again, and called it a day. This basic method will work for pretty much any fruit you’ve got lying around. Go with your gut on these things — after all, you are making the drink for a moment in time, so should it really be totally repeatable?

Except for the first glass, the rest of the blender emptied into a couple travel mugs, which went to the beach with the tubes. We bobbed up and down along the freshwater waves like a proud pair of thieves, soaking up the late-day sunshine atop our black rubber donuts, breathing the clean northern breeze, and sipping the tart, crushed blueberries that had conspired to steer our whole day toward this moment.

Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice. Drink Well.


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