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#spritzerswithpritzker is now a phenomenon, thanks to Kimberly Adami-Hasegawa, who started it, and Governor J. B. Pritzker, who called attention to it during his April 9 press conference.

Kimberly had been watching Pritzker’s daily press conferences for weeks. And, since being at home, she’d started having spritzers, some alcoholic, some not, while she watched. She’d post recipes and photos on Twitter with the hashtag #spritzerswithpritzker.

She got the idea, she said, from a story on NPR about Beers with Beshear, a happy hour centered around Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s daily COVID-19 briefings. She decided to come up with her own local version.

On the day Pritzker mentioned her, Adami-Hasegawa said the station she watches for the press conference cut over a little late to the governor’s talk. When they did, she immediately heard “spritzers with Pritzker.”

“I started screaming,” she said. “I was so shocked.”

Afterward, she was able to see the full clip, in which Pritzker thanked Adami-Hasegawa for making people smile. Pritzker incorrectly assumed Adami-Hasegawa was male, since her Twitter handle is her last name, @adamihasegawa, and often it’s thought her first name is “Adam.”

But Adami-Hasegawa thought even the gender mistake was funny, and she appreciated Pritzker’s words:

“A special cheers to the Forest Park resident who tweets every day that he has faithfully enjoyed a cocktail or a mocktail during this press conference every afternoon since March 26. So know that your hashtag ‘SpritzersWithPritzker’ has brought a smile to the governor’s office staff, and lots of people seem to appreciate you tweeting the drink recipes too. So thank you.”

Since that day, she’s gotten a lot of new followers on Twitter, which, she said, feels like “so much pressure.” But everyone’s been supportive.

The daily routine of the press conference and the spritzers has been good, said Adami-Hasegawa, especially since there is so much uncertainty in the world right now. Her husband, Naoto, works at Trader Joe’s, and he interacts daily with people, unable to self-isolate at home. Although he’s now allowed to wear a mask at work, and the store has put up plexi-glass at the registers, it’s stressful.

Adami-Hasegawa herself does administrative work for an Oak Park church, though she’s doing it from home now. And she hand-makes and sells greeting cards that feature stamps she’s collected. Her Instagram profile describes her, among other things, as a philatelist.

One of her cards features a stamp with a heart-shaped globe and, underneath it in typewriter font, these famous words from an e. e. cummings poem: “i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart).” The simplicity is representative of all her cards. And it’s what lends them their unique elegance and quirky irresistibility.

April, it turns out, is National Card and Letter Writing Month. For Adami-Hasegawa, who creates greeting cards, collects typewriters, and was starting a Dive Bar Letter Writers meetup before the COVID-19 pandemic began, this month holds great significance.

Adami-Hasegawa has pen pals around the world, and, she said, the current pandemic has been the topic of discussion in the letters she and her pen pals have exchanged lately.

“Seeing all the different philosophies from the different governors and countries is fascinating,” said Adami-Hasegawa. She has a pen pal in New Zealand, where there have been few deaths and the shut-down, said Adami-Hasegawa, has been very strict. Another friend in Los Angeles sent Adami-Hasegawa and her husband masks when California ordered shelter-in-place before Illinois, and a buddy in Florida said she wasn’t sure they would even see a stay at home order there.

But writing letters – the process itself – can bring comfort to people. Adami-Hasegawa said she’s discovered it’s a way to relax now, when everything is uncertain, when it’s impossible to know what the next day or moment will bring.

“Everyone’s doing Zoom chats and things, and that’s really fun,” said Adami-Hasegawa. “It’s good to have face to face interaction. But letter writing allows you to slow down. It’s really grounding.”

Adami-Hasegawa recommends it to people, especially those who might have a little more time right now. Or for those who are frazzled and stressed.

“Connect with an older person or a friend you haven’t connected with in a while,” said Adami-Hasegawa, who has found that the 30 or 40 minutes she sits down each day to write a letter is a time during which she’s doing something calming.

What’s changed? In the letter-writing community, said Adami-Hasegawa, everyone’s agreed to stop licking their envelopes. “Just to be extra safe,” she said. And she personally washes her hands after opening her mail.

As for the spritzers, Adami-Hasegawa describes herself as a “cocktail enthusiast,” though she has no formal bartending training. “I just like fancy cocktails,” she said with a laugh.

About 10 years ago, she said, she and her husband started experimenting with cocktails and trying new combinations and recipes. They enjoyed hosting what came to be called Hasegawa Happy Hours, with fancy drinks and snacks. Now, of course, those gatherings have been put on hold.

But Adami-Hasegawa still finds relaxation in taking the time to mix drinks.

“We have a really good home bar. We have a lot of variety and things to choose from,” said Adami-Hasegawa, adding that she plans to try to come up with a few of her own cocktails over the next few weeks, deviating from established recipes.

“What about a Forest Park cocktail?” asked the Review.

“Yes! We need one,” she said, and after a few days of experimenting she came up with the Radical Row.

Radical Row cocktail recipe

The Review asked Kimberly Adami-Hasegawa if she could create a Forest Park cocktail. Here’s her take on a local drink.

Ingredients:

1.5 oz gin

.75 oz honey rosemary syrup*

1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

5 oz club soda

Fresh rosemary

Add gin, honey syrup and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled. Pour into a glass with fresh ice. Top with club soda and stir gently. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a rosemary sprig.

Honey rosemary syrup

½ cup honey

½ cup water

3 sprigs rosemary

Heat honey and water on the stove until honey dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Add rosemary and chill before using. The syrup will keep in the fridge for several days.

Residents or bar owners are invited to email the Review with other Forest Park cocktail recipes at maria@forestparkreview.com.

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