Flash back to 2016: Every surface of my kitchen fridge was hidden somewhere under stacks of jars and berries and citrus and syrups and teetering bottles. I was a few months from the recipe testing deadline for my first cocktail book, and the fridge was so full of experiments that every time I tried to buy actual food for dinner, there was nowhere to shove it. The fridge door needed, no joke, a lean of the hip to stay sealed.
A final fateful packet of blueberries tumbled onto my head one morning while I packed a lunch, and that¡¯s when I decided. We¡¯d remodel the kitchen. Better yet, we¡¯d move. Anything for a bigger fridge.
My husband stepped in. ¡°We could solve this problem with thousands of dollars in remodeling or a million dollars in San Francisco real estate,¡± he said (too) calmly, (too) rationally. ¡°Or, we could buy the kind of mini fridge you had in your college dorm room. What do those things cost?¡±
Not, it turns out, a million dollars. Even for a biggish one. And so we entered the (much happier) dorm fridge era of our lives and I¡¯ve never looked back.
A second fridge isn¡¯t an especially original move: All my friends moved to the suburbs and tucked a full-sized additional fridge into their basements or garages, stocking it with bricks of Costco cheese, beer, maybe an extra lasagna.
But my dorm fridge isn¡¯t tucked away in the basement¡ªhe¡¯s front and center. And he¡¯s not for leftovers.
Early on, Dormie (can I call him Dormie?) served as the vessel for my recipe-testing supplies, but quickly he became a central part of how I entertain: he¡¯s a drink fridge.
Now, when we have people over, they¡¯re not awkwardly pawing past my kid¡¯s gallon-sized container of macaroni in search of a seltzer. Instead, Dormie lives in the dining room. He¡¯s got a shelf of La Croix, a four-pack or two of local beer, a bottle of muscadet. He has a new brand of alcohol-free aperitif, a few open bottles of vermouth, and the fancy mineral water I like to serve if anyone¡¯s having whiskey after dinner.
¡°Help yourself to a drink!¡± is not an empty gesture¡ªit takes a task off my hands as the host while I¡¯m cooking, and lets people feel free to choose drinks (alcoholic or non-) without any pressure one way or the other.
And since Dormie is about 3 feet from our dinner table, guests can refill as needed without getting an eyeful of all the dirty pots and pans in my kitchen. Or I can easily pull out more drinks to offer without taking any extra steps. I¡¯m reminded to hydrate during a cocktail party because Dormie displays all that fizzy, fizzy water.
Best of all, of course, I now know where my mustards and fish sauces and herbs are because they¡¯re not stacked behind Sodastream bottles and cans of IPA.
At times, Dormie does just become an overflow fridge, but his separate nature is still helpful: I¡¯ll stash supplies for just one meal (all the ingredients for a big Saturday brunch, for example) and then easily be able to retrieve everything, even if my other fridge is filled to the gills with Saturday¡¯s dinner stuff.
Don¡¯t tell Dormie, but he¡¯s not especially cute. I¡¯ve enjoyed his flawless performance since 2016, but I do think that maybe he¡¯ll conk out one day and I¡¯ll trade up for someone, I mean, something cooler. The curvy ones from Smeg are pricey, but now there are cute retro fridges made by Magic Chef, Galanz, and Frigidaire. With a dorm fridge that good-looking, who needs a garage?