By Dave Pezza
July is almost over. How did this happen? It is that point in the summer where we need to slow things down. I have got just the right Home Stretch combo to help you mellow out in that backyard hammock, the breeze passing by like all your burdens. This week we are showcasing the fairly obscure Canadian punk band Plumtree and the summertime favorite Moscow Mule.
Plumtree, hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, put out a few albums in the 1990s, moderately toured through the United States and Canada, and then called it quits in 2000. In 2010, they put out this monster of a compilation album. Plumtree has that laid back, easy-does-it vibe, for which 90s rock bands are famous. I picked them up from the “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” soundtrack and never turned back. The all-female band crosses teenage tales of love and awkwardness with catchy, lucid chords that span from small and delicate to expansive and badass. Throw on this album, and you’ll be infected by head bobbing and hip swaying in no time at all.
The Moscow mule is the quintessential relaxing beverage. It is easy to make, refreshing, and it packs a wallop without you being any the wiser. Another classic cocktail invented in Manhattan, the mecca of cocktail manufacturing, the Moscow Mule gets its name not from its wide consumption in Moscow or because of its use of vodka (there is also a bourbon variant called the Kentucky Mule; just replace bourbon with vodka and add mint for garnish), but from its birthplace at The Hotel Chatham in “Little Moscow.”
What you’ll need:
- 3 ounces of vodka
- ½ ounce lime juice
- Ginger beer
- Copper mug
The Moscow mule doesn’t even require a shaker. The only real flair in this cocktail is the type of barware that it is traditionally served in: a copper mug. Like other summer beverages, including the Mint Julep, the metal mug helps the beverage and the drinker stay as chilled as possible.
1/2 oz. lime juice/“Go!”
I would recommend using an actual lime in this recipe. If you quarter your lime, each quarter should render about half an ounce of lime juice. Take the copper mug, squeeze out half an ounce of lime juice, and throw in the rind for good measure. The Moscow Mule combines three ingredients, all adding a different essential flavor. The bitterness of the lime cuts down on the overly sweetness of the ginger beer, allowing for a more mild taste.
“Go!” gets you right into mix upfront. The leadoff for the compilation album alerts you to just how much fun you’ll be having over the next hour. This track is fast, ferocious, and facile. Plumtree still manages to add a delicate touch to the guitar work in between the crashing drums and yelling. And who doesn’t love a chorus composed entirely of yelling?! Throw this track on the iPhone, sprinting out of the door from work.
3 oz. vodka/“Scott Pilgrim”
Inspired by the Canadian graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley, “Scott Pilgrim” will invade your life. Listening to it once is simply not an option. The gruff opening guitar riff that permeates the entire song, the delicate melody interplayed over it, the tight drum work, and the counterpoint chorus combine to create one hell of a catchy tune.
Now add three ounces of vodka to your copper cup. Any vodka will do, but I like the mildness and affordability of Three Olives vodka. You may want to add more or less depending on how much you enjoy the taste of ginger beer. And just like that we are almost done with this drink.
Ginger beer/“My My”
The first of the compilations more laid back songs. “My My” has a slowed down reggae riff, casual lyrics, and even a low-key harmonica overplay. “My My” will put you to ease after the first two catchy, punky tracks. Expect more of this type of tone throughout the rest of the album, gliding melodies through the warm summer air.
Grab a can of ginger beer. The most famous and easily found is Gosling’s Ginger Beer, usually around five bucks for a sixer. Before you add the ginger beer, fill the mug about halfway with ice. You want about six or so ounces of ginger beer, depending on how much you enjoy the sweet distinctive taste. They are typically sold in 12-ounce cans, so half a can should be just about right. Grab a spoon, mix the concoction up just a bit, releasing some of the carbonation from the ginger beer.
Believe it or not you are done. Find a nice patch of grass in the shade, lay back, and enjoy the rest of the album.