the name of this drink is further along the spectrum of ridiculousness than i'm normally comfortable with, but after a weekend which included the unwelcome discovery of a discomfiting little visitor from the past in our car's a/c vent, it seemed fine for now.
after all, it's after 5 on a hot summer sunday - it IS high time for a drink of some sort, and it might as well be this.
i usually think of whiskey as more of a fall/winter drink, but when you add citrus and herbs and sparkling water, all of a sudden it makes sense as a summer pick-me-up+cool-me-down. a tom collins typically uses gin, but all we had was rye and silly old texas doesn't allow one to purchase liquor on sundays.
other things that were handy included thyme and grapefruit, whose bitterness made it seem like they would go together. i've since looked up the combination and both marcus samuelsson and martha stewart have cocktails that use it, so i'm in illustrious company, i guess? the peppercorns were an attempt to complexify it and respond to the pepperiness of the rye.
just peel a grapefruit, taking care not to dig deeply enough to get the extra-bitter white pith with it. i ended up using maybe 15 sections that were about 3/4" x 2" or so, but it's not an exact thing. then add it and some thyme and peppercorns to 1 cup each of water and white sugar and bring to a boil. let it boil for 3 minutes or so, then turn it off and let it cool.
i like making simple syrups with lots of things in them. i think it gets to the same childhood idea of cooking that making chicken stock brings out - just toss things in a pot with water and voila! it's magically something much better.
once the syrup is cool, strain it and mix a couple of tablespoons with an ounce of rye and 1-2 tablespoons of grapefruit and/or lemon juice in a short highball or old fashioned glass. as per usual, this is all to taste. then add a couple of ice cubes and fill the rest of the way with sparkling water or club soda. we often get that water that has pink grapefruit flavoring (it's not sweet - just grapefruity), so if you have that you might as well use it.
then just kick back with a magazine and let your cares lift away. try not to think about how hot it is or how gross that mouse in your a/c vent probably definitely was.
peel from 1 medium grapefruit
7-10 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons dried (my thyme plant is a bit sad right now, so i augmented the 5 or so fresh sprigs i had with a couple of large pinches of dried lemon thyme)
12-15 whole black peppercorns (just grab a large pinch. sichuan pepper might be really interesting here, too, though i'd probably use less)
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
rye thyme, etc., collins
2 tablespoons syrup
2 tablespoons grapefruit and/or lemon juice
sparkling water or club soda
listening to: beirut