A quick disclaimer: many of the photos for this post were taken before this blog was even being brainstormed about. They could be better! But they do get the idea across. Enjoy!
About a year and a half ago, Josh and I (of H&H North) decided we should look into buying a home. Here in the great city of Philadelphia, home ownership is a realistic fantasy for young people who are just starting their careers. The ironic and at times cruel hands of fate and housing policy have left Philly full of homeless people and a plethora of empty and abandoned houses. MM Partners, our landlords, asked if we were interested in buying a home that they would gut and renovate. We would get to choose all the fixings. Our house was owned by the city, but a man named Ray had been hoarding all kinds of interesting things in the house.
Although this sign remained when we first came to look at the house, it was vacant and condemned. The back had collapsed, and there was a tree growing inside. There was furniture piled to the ceiling in some rooms, and very interesting things peeling off the walls in others. We were told not to worry if something ran by as we walked around; it would only be a cat.
Here are some photos from the inside of the house as we saw it for the first time. The front room had been cleaned out, but the back room offered a look at what state the house had been in for some time. Below, is the scary backroom and the house’s original take on the open concept room: a gaping hole in the back wall.
We were nervous about the project, but decided it was the best we could get. Other houses were going for way more and needed tons of work.
After the longest winter EVER, the home was framed and we were sipping ice coffee as we gingerly made our way around to check out the progress. Once it got going, there was something different to see every time we checked in. I made a habit of taking a photo from the doorway so we could measure the progress. Once the maple flooring went in, this dream really seemed like it was going to be a reality.
And just like that, after months and months of waiting, major anxiety that we were making a big mistake, and much hand wringing, it was done! And it was beautiful. Shiny and new and beautiful. And then we moved our stuff in.
So here we are: living in the house that originally sparked the idea for a blog about home projects and alcohol. The move took a few weeks, but we were lucky to have the helping hands of wonderful friends who also put us up when our gas had yet to be turned on and the shower ran cold. Y’all are the best!
This cocktail, by The Ginhound, pays hommage to the profession that is truly responsible for this house. She claims that she created this drink for a banker turned bartender friend of hers, but let’s be real. Apple Brandy? Just made that. Raspberry syrup? Just made that. Fernet? Always trying to get more of this in my life since we left Buenos Aires where Fernet and Coke is a way of life. And without the banker, there would have been no gut renovation, and we would still be renting. Without realizing it, The Ginhound made a perfect cocktail just for me. And so, we pour one out for the banker who was crazy enough to give us a mortgage. Thanks Ginhound!
Shake ingredients in shaker and pour over one big ice cube. Or several medium ones if that’s all you have. I actually added more Fernet to mine than did the Ginhound since I can’t get enough of how it’s medicinal flavor tangos on my tongue with the sweetness of the apple brandy and raspberry syrup. Also, you really need to double this recipe if you aren’t driving. You are going to want another.