As working adults, we look forward to summer Fridays, the too-brief windows of time when we can unshackle ourselves from our desks and computers and feel the freedom that comes with an early escape from the city to the countryside, an afternoon strolling the cool marbled corridors of a museum, or just a glass of rosé and a plate of oysters at an al fresco happy hour.
But in college, we had a different name for summer Fridays, since our version of this weekly ritual lasted all school year: Friday Afternoon Downtime.
Friday Afternoon Downtime was that golden stretch of time between the end of classes and the beginning of Going-Out Preparations, the easy slide into the weekend that signified a temporary reprieve from responsibilities and deadlines. We might spend Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the library writing papers and sweating over our reading list, but on Fridays, we perfected the art of doing nothing.
Truth be told, Friday Afternoon Downtime was always my favorite part of the weekend. The next few days were open with promise, full of potential excitement and the shenanigans of idle youth. More often than not, the weekend events as they unfolded couldn’t live up to the idealized dreams of Friday afternoon, but every week the possibility presented itself anew.
Despite—or more likely because of—the buzzy bacchanalia that would follow on Friday nights, our Friday Afternoon Downtime routines weren’t predicated on alcohol, but were more of a group hang situation where us girls could get our bearings, connect with one another (in the days before cell phones, this was a necessity), and make plans before the momentum of the weekend carried us forward.
However, I’m now a (very) small business owner instead of a college student, meaning that I work by myself at home, and thus my Friday Afternoon Downtime is frequently spent in my backyard. So I’m making a passion fruit and lemon cocktail that encapsulates all that weekend promise for us oldsters who can look back on our college days with fondness—but also with the knowledge that we’d never be drinking something this fantastically fresh when we were 21 years old in a small town in central PA.
Like the Negroni and the Boulevardier, the Friday Afternoon Downtime cocktail uses the easy-to-remember ratio of 1:1:1 (with a splash of seltzer), so it’s something you can make without too much forethought. Unlike those two spirit-heavy drinks, however, this one is dangerously light and refreshing, enough so that you might want to mix up a big batch and take the whole pitcher to the patio with you.
The one must-have you’ll have to plan for in advance: a bottle of Giffard Crème de Fruits de la Passion. This French passion fruit liqueur is the linchpin of the drink, mellowing the sharpness of fresh lemon juice with its own sweet acidity, and bringing the booziness of the gin into balance. Seriously, get your hands on a bottle, and get ready to fall in love. It’s the stuff.
If you’d like to amplify the lemon in the cocktail, I recommend Malfy Gin con Limone as your base spirit, but it’s not necessary for the overall success of the drink. Any lightly aromatic gin will do, or even a lemon vodka if that’s your preference.
This Friday, give yourself a break. Mix up a Friday Afternoon Downtime and take a few hours to play hooky and dream about a weekend of fun and adventure—it’s what your college self would do.
- 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) gin, preferably Malfy Gin con Limone
- 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) Giffard Crème de Fruits de la Passion
- 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) fresh lemon juice (from about 2 large lemons)
- plain or lemon seltzer
- Fill 2 large highball glasses or Collins glasses with ice.
- Stir the gin, passion fruit liqueur, and lemon juice together in a measuring cup or Boston shaker glass.
- Divide evenly between the two ice-filled glasses.
- Top each glass with seltzer and serve immediately.