Happy 50th Birthday To Me… and My Half-Century Cocktail Recipe

Happy birthday to me
I don’t live in a tree
But I look like a primate
Because I am one!

Happy birthday to me! I’m 50 years old today, a fact that I’m mildly weirded out about. On the other hand, as they say, it beats the alternative. And I plan to spend my fifties exploding stereotypes about people in their fifties… so that should be fun. I think the next fifty years are going to RAWK! (Insert embarrassing mental image of middle-aged person making the devil-horns rock-and-roll gesture.)

And we invented a cocktail tonight in honor of the occasion! I’m calling it a Half Century. It’s not wildly freaky or anything — it’s roughly a whiskey sour made with lime juice and cardamom simple syrup — but it’s awfully damn delicious. And it has qualities both of a classic cocktail and a weird modern spicy cocktail, which seems appropriate for the occasion. Plus it has cardamom! Nature’s perfect food.

Half Century

It’s just:

2 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. cardamom simple syrup (see below)
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

Shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass. Guzzle.

Cardamom Simple Syrup

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup whole cardamom

Shell whole cardamom pods until you get 1/4 cup. This is going to take a while — I was at it for close to an hour, and I had help from Ingrid — but it will make your hands smell amazing. Bring water and cardamom to a boil. Stir in sugar until it’s fully dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in fridge for 3 days, checking frequently to make sure it still smells totally awesome. Try to resist temptation to taste it. Fail. Luxuriate in the glory that is cardamom. After 3 days, strain. (I thought this was going to be a huge pain in the nuts involving cheesecloth and whatnot, but a smallish sieve totally did the trick.) Admire the gorgeous amber color. Lick the spoon. Resist temptation to take the strained-out, sugar-saturated cardamom pods and rub them all over your body. Experiment with different cardamom-based cocktail recipes until you get schnockered. Try to figure out correct spelling of “schnockered.” Spend rest of evening driving your best friend nuts with stories about how cute your cats are.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Happy 50th Birthday To Me… and My Half-Century Cocktail Recipe

88 thoughts on “Happy 50th Birthday To Me… and My Half-Century Cocktail Recipe

  1. 3

    Happy Birthday Greta! I hope you’re good for at least another 50 years of kicking religion’s butt (I’d like to think we won’t need your efforts on behalf of atheism for that long but, sadly, I suspect we will.)

  2. 5

    Happy Birthday Greta! You have finally been inducted into the sex-symbol hall of fame (you have to be 50!–I’ve belonged for 6 years now!) and Ingrid should feel honored to be the consort of a certified sex symbol!! Happiest of birthdays, can’t wait to see you to give you a kiss! 🙂

  3. 11

    Here’s to going once more around the sun. Only 50. So young, still in yor prime. I look forward to reading much more from you in the future and NOT just because I’m older than you!

  4. 16

    Happy Birthday!! Thank you for your blogging and for being a voice of reason on a number of topics.

    By the way, it is my opinion that cats are evil, but I’m glad you have some new kids to enjoy.


  5. 28

    Happy Birthday!

    Feel free to use my quote from a couple of years ago: “I’m 50 and I’m not wearing any pants!” Shouted from a balcony in Cancun, and I was totally sober. Just trying to embarrass the spousal unit.

  6. 29


    Happy birthday!!

    One’s 50th birthday appears to be a significant milestone – you’re now eligible to join AARP.

    But there are more milestones to come.

    When you turn 55, you will be eligible for the reduced price menu at IHOP.

    And 53 and 59 are both significant in that they are “sexy primes” (prime numbers that differs from another prime number by six).

  7. 33

    Happy, happy birthday! You are still younger than I am, though, for I am old enough to be your … um, cousin.

    I recall reading about a study not long ago which surveyed the ‘elderly’ (which, at this stage in history, might mean they had to be over 80) and asked them which decade of their life was the “best.” If they could do it over, would they choose to re-live their childhood, teens, 20’s, 30’s, what?

    The somewhat surprising answer was their 50’s. The vast majority thought that, all things considered, from 50 to 60 was the most fun. Analysts suggested that this might be because that’s statistically likely to be the stage in life when you are more financially secure, less worried about raising children, fairly stable, and still fairly healthy. I also suspect that, to someone in their 80’s, their self at 50 is more recognizably still ‘them’ than their remembered self at 21.

    So hey — celebrate! This decade is going to be the BEST YET EVER!!!11!!1!

    (When you turn 60, forget this post. That should be easy for you by then.)

  8. 35

    Happy Birthday, Greta!

    I was already an atheist when I started reading your blog (I discovered you towards the very beginning- I think via Pharyngula) but I have learned a lot, and grown a lot, thanks to your writings. Not only on atheism, but on feminism, food, fashion, and (especially) sex-positive attitudes.

    May you have another 50 wonderfully happy, healthy, and LOUD years.

  9. 41

    Happy birthday indeed! I don’t know what those numbers mean anyway — clearly, someone’s been messing with the timeline because there is no way we”re grown-ups, right? Or at least, not middle-aged… Or at least, not — ah, no way. Stupid timeline is clearly wrong.

  10. 45

    Happy Birthday! I’m going to go open my jar of cardamom pods, stick my nose in it, take a long inhale and think of you.

    Someone should bottle and sell cardamom syrup, that would be awesome. You can get cardamom extract online, maybe that would be a good shortcut.

  11. 47

    Happy 50th you wonderful Scandinavian you!!! You and I have so much in common: gay, atheism, in our fab 50’s, heritage, cocktails, I could go on and on! I’m just thrilled to have discovered you this year. I can’t wait to read more of your blogs, discoveries, thoughts, etc… in the coming years. Keep on rockin’ the house and Skaal!!!

  12. 55

    Happy Birthday! please allow me to say you don’t appear 50…I’d have guessed 30’s-ish from a picture & maybe early 40’s-ish from hearing you speak…you’re very youthful & exuberant…and the higher guess from hearing you speak is mostly due to vocabulary, clean diction, and erudition.

    Many Happy Returns of the Day! (with apologies to Alfalfa from The Little Rascals…)

  13. 65

    I’ve said it privately, but congratulations on another lap around the sun, and I hope your New Year’s Eve finds you nicely schnockered. Which is totally spelled correctly.

  14. 74

    Happy birthday, and happy new year (in more ways than one, I suppose). I’ve been assured that chocolate-covered strawberries are “nature’s perfect food,” but there may have been some irony intended in that claim.

  15. 76

    Some of my best New Year’s Eve memories ever are of your birthday parties. May your next half century exceed the first one by a factor of many in joy, health, love, peace and cardamom.

  16. 77

    Happy new year of life, Greta! So now we know the reason of the season:)

    I’m a long-time reader and appreciate your blog very much, I just can’t cough up witty comments as much as I’d like.

  17. 79

    Congratulations, Greta, on your 50 years of freedom from uterine confinement. You make me feel like there’s still hope after 30.

  18. 84

    Happy Slightly Belated 50th! Since you’ve come to FTB I’ve read you more often than before. Not only does this heteronormative 50+ male get some overdue consciousness-raising, badass atheism and cute cat picures, but now cocktail recipes too!

    OT: On a family xmas trip to NYC we went to a dive (in a good way) jazz bar in the West Village that turned out to be right next to Stonewall on Christopher Street. A bit of an unexpected historical/human rights struggle highlight. Bar 55, for you NYCers.

  19. 85

    Happy birthday Greta.

    My own 50th is approaching like the ground at the end of a parachute jump, so I’m all in favour of giving stereotypes the Mythbusters treatment.

  20. 86

    Wow! I just saw this! Happy birthday belated! That’s awesome that u are a NYE baby too, so am I! I rang in the new year at 38 this time! U were my favorite speaker at Skepticon and u where completely amazingly cool when I got to talk to u for a bit at the pub that night! Thanx for doing what u do!

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