One time, I was feeling mighty fine and thought I’d try something different. I saw this ad in a magazine where a woman was in an obscenely large bathtub and covered up to the neck in bubbles. This was in a room with a marble floor, and there were candles everywhere, and she had her hair up all nice and a face mask on. Well, I got to thinking a nice long soak after a hard day’s work would be nice.
This was a few months after my run-in with Sherry, and I was trying hard to let myself enjoy things more. It occurred to me after seeing her that her fatal flaw was not believing that her future was right in front of her. Or maybe she was too afraid to take it with both hands. I began to wonder if we didn’t hold back and do half the work for La Llorona with all that we ran from life.
So I bought some bubble bath and made more beeswax candles and set about having myself a spa night. I mean, my bathroom was nowhere near as nice as the one in the picture. My tub was only long enough for me to sit upright and was right next to the toilet, but I made do.
It was lovely. I mean, divine! I could see why fancy women liked this. I put on the radio, and the music was soft and sweet, like the candlelight against the fading day. I was so relaxed, that I was about to fall asleep in that tub.
That was when I felt cold hands grip the soles of my feet and pull me under. I should have seen it coming. Why willingly linger in a body of water? But I didn’t, and that was how I found myself drowning in bubbles and thrashing around in my tub. It’s also how I learned that evil woman could find me anywhere—and I mean anywhere—so I could never let my guard down.
Her grip was strong. Seemed like the harder I fought, the stronger she got. I was flailing about, my arms searching for anything and everything to hold on to, when I knocked one of those beeswax candles into the tub. To this day, I have no idea why that scared her, but it did. She recoiled something quick at the hiss of the flame when the wax hit water.
I didn’t waste a second—I hoisted myself out of the tub and collapsed on the bathroom floor, choking and sputtering and sopping wet. Took me forever to clean up the mess and cough up all those flower-scented bubbles. My feet were cold and sore for days, with claw marks where her bony fingers hooked into my skin.
Whoever said bubble baths were relaxing was a big fat liar.
Witch’s Brew Cocktail
It’s been a while since I’ve concocted a cocktail recipe, and even longer since I’ve come up with one for Halloween. I love a good cocktail because they’ve always struck me as one of the most basic kinds of potions. Think about it: a good cocktail can give us liquid courage, exorcise a hard work week, or even act as a temporary love spell. And as will all potions and spells, the medicine is in the dosage. Too much and it’s poison, too little and your Friday night is perhaps a little less adventurous (wink wink).
It bears repeating that I like to avoid syrupy or excessively sugary ingredients and stick to clean tastes modeled after the classics when it comes to cocktail making. I do this because most novelty cocktail—a la Halloween drinks—are sugar bombs. Not my idea of a good time or a tasty drink. Although I call these Halloween-inspired concoctions, I have been known to drink them throughout the year, especially the green fairy, a tasty absinthe-kissed cocktail perfect for ending the workweek and stirring up some writing inspiration for the weekend.
Lately, come Saturday night, I’ve been experimenting with this new drink: Witch’s Brew. It was inspired by my garden and all the herbs I cultivate there: rosemary, lavender, sage…all delicious, all medicinal, all typically associated with healers and witches because of their various magical and healing properties. I started wondering how I could fold those flavors into a tasty magical brew.
I used gin as the base because of herbaceousness and went for a bold choice of mixer: chartreuse. It’s what gives this drink the verdant green color we typically associate with potions. It’s also an ancient healing tincture made from over 130 herbs. It tastes fresh, like mint and fennel, with the other herbs as a strong supporting cast. Yum! I paired this refreshing taste with lime because I love a good gimlet and its variants.
The real kicker to this is what I do with the gin. I infuse it with green apples—who doesn’t think of witches without thinking of forbidden fruit?—along with rosemary and a few juniper berries to make the herbaceousness of the gin really pop. Also because I love rosemary, the natural protector of the herb world. Juniper berries are also fast becoming a kitchen witch staple in my home. Did you know juniper both protects good energy and repels the negative? If that’s not magical, I don’t know what is! Add a dash of bay leaf bitters, for the leaf’s powers of divination.
As with all spells (and drinks), feel free to play with the recipe. Chartreuse might be a bit pricy for some (though a little goes a long way so it will last a while!), try swapping it out with rosemary or ginger simple syrup or apple schnapps (or both!)—it will change the flavor, but will no doubt be equally festive, if with more sugar. The infused gin makes about two cups of yum—plenty to experiment with or to whip up a magical batch of this brew.
All good spells require a little time, a little love, and quality ingredients. While this cocktail is a touch more labor-intensive than my others in that you first need a week to infuse the gin, it’s worth it. Plus, while you wait, you can prepare the right kind of energy you want to infuse into this brew. Do you need a little more magic in your life? A little more mischief? A dash of hope or a heading dose of healing? Whatever you need, let it brew until you’re ready to infuse it into a batch of this tasty elixir.
For infused gin:
2 cups gin
1 Granny Smith apple
2-4 juniper berries (depending on how strong you want the juniper flavor to be)
1 large spring of rosemary
2 oz apple and herb-infused gin
2 dashes bay leaf bitters
.75 oz chartreuse
.5 to .75 oz freshly squeezed lime juice (depending on how tart you like it)
In infuse gin, slice green apple and place in clean mason jar. Squeeze juniper berries so they crack a little—this will help the alcohol absorb their flavor more—and place in jar. Pour gin over ingredients and let sit for a week, shaking when you remember to. A day or two before you want to enjoy your cocktail, throw in a sprig of rosemary that has been slightly bruised, again, to help the alcohol better absorb its flavor. I wait for a little on the rosemary because the fresh stuff takes less time to be extracted in alcohol and letting it sit too long in the gin muddies the flavor. To use, pour gin through a strainer into a clean mason jar.
For the cocktail, mix gin, chartreuse, lime juice, and a dash of bitters in a shaker. Add ice and shake until the container is frosty. Serves one—so double or triple the batch and invite your coven over. Pair with a chilly autumn night, a full moon, and a handful of spells. Cauldron optional.
This post originally appeared on Enchantment Learning and Living, home of professor, writer, and bruja Maria DeBlassie, where true magic is in the everyday!