We just got back from our very first cruise. Sailing through the Pacific Northwest this time of year was truly spectacular. This was our first time visiting Alaska, and the lush scenery and diverse wildlife this beautiful state had to offer was breathtaking. We felt so lucky to see humpback whales spouting from their blowholes, dolphins jumping from the water by the dozens, and bald eagles soaring overhead with their distinguished white heads, standing apart from the rest of their feathered friends in the region. From the 27-mile bike ride through the hills of Sitka, to a rainforest hike where we picked wild Alaskan berries, it was the perfect way to disconnect and surround ourselves in nature.
We spent the first night in Seattle. After settling into our hotel we walked for miles, exploring the city and taking advantage of the warm and sunny weather. The aroma of fresh coffee filled the air as we wandered the streets, poking our heads into tiny cafes for sweet pastries and refreshments. We stopped at the Chihuly Gardens & Glass and were treated to a psychedelic display of brilliant neon-colored designs made entirely from glass, both inside the galleries and integrated into the gardens outside. The next time you are in Seattle, we highly recommend you stop by: we’ve never seen anything like it.
Before this trip we didn’t know what to expect from a cruise, but now we both agree that we would do it again in a heartbeat. It was a relaxing way to travel: sneaking in sessions in the complimentary steam room, ordering cocktails as the sun was rising, and making important daily decisions about whether we should participate in group bingo or attend afternoon tea time while being serenaded by a string quartet. Those were real discussions which occurred as we sampled mini creme brûlée cups and sipped cappuccinos, eating like it was Thanksgiving for every meal. For seven days.
Inspired by the striking blue-colored ice we encountered on our vacation, we created a cocktail as cool as an Alaskan glacier. This citrusy sipper is here to subside your summer sultriness: made with freshly-squeezed lemon juice, vodka, mint simple syrup, and a splash of club soda, this refreshing and lightly-bubbly drink is decorated with dazzling ice cubes made from blue curaçao for a pretty blue color as well as a subtle hint of orange flavor. Garnished with a sprig of rosemary to represent the evergreen trees covering the Pacific Northwest, now you don’t even need to leave your home to experience the wonders of this picturesque part of the planet.
1 1/2 ounces (45ml) vodka
1 ounce (30ml) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce (30ml) mint simple syrup (recipe below)
3 ounces (90ml) club soda
blue ice cubes (recipe below)
rosemary sprig for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, lemon juice, and mint simple syrup. Fill with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a collins glass, and add the club soda. Add blue ice cubes to fill the glass, garnish with rosemary, and enjoy!
mint simple syrup
1 cup (237ml) water
1 cup (198g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (40g) mint leaves, roughly chopped
In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and mint leaves, and place over medium heat. Cover pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep covered for 10 to 15 minutes, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof container to remove the mint leaves. Transfer the container to the fridge and keep chilled until ready to use, up to 2 weeks.
blue ice cubes
1 cup (237ml) water
1 cup (237ml) blue curaçao liqueur
Combine the water and liqueur in a glass measuring cup, and pour into ice cube trays. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours. Note that the cubes will be slightly soft due to the alcohol content.