A couple of week’s ago we made a lovely tiki drink called the Cobra’s Fang which I served in a huge ceramic rattlesnake mug. In honor of this most excellent mug I told a couple of stories of my rattlesnake encounters across the country. This was really just a bit of misdirection, since I did not have any Cobra stories that don’t involve Carroll Shelby in some way. I am not unhappy about that, sure I have seen Cobras at zoos, and that is close enough for me. I mean, I want to travel to places where Cobras are more of an issue, but I don’t want to meet any up close. It’s nothing personal against the cobras, I am generally snake averse. The drinking world, however, is not. There are lots of drinks named for snakes and I figure that as long as I am at home and making drinks, I will work a few of them in from time to time. So, join me as we stand and make, the Rattlesnake.
Procrastination is a thing. You know this. In fact, science has shown that there is a 86.753% chance that the only reason you are reading this right now is that you are avoiding doing something else. In fact, only .09% of you reading these words actually set out to listen to me ramble through some thinly veiled commentary about life under the guise of making you a drink, or teaching you to make your own drink, which is way more efficient, if current angling models are to be believed. Anyway, the thing is, I have been putting off making this drink for a while. There is never going to be a right time to make this one, but today stars aligned partly and the time is mostly right, so join me as we stand and make, the Aggravation.
There are a ton of things in life you hear about, have some idea of what they might be, but don’t really understand. There are bands I have heard of, might even have heard one of their songs, but I really know nothing about them. Well, that’s not quite true, I have preconceptions. Good example, The Tedeschi Trucks Band. I had heard the name for years, but never listened to them. Did not even want to, I knew they weren’t my kind of thing. Believe it or not, in the 80’s I was a bit of a skate rat. Skateboards, Vans, my BMX, pack of chewy sweet tarts, the whole thing. For anyone who cares, Vision Old Ghosts, Gullwing Trucks, Orange Juice Wheels, well at least until I defected to Powell Peralta Bones Brigade. Somehow, my brain connected the Tedeschi name to skateboarding, I mean Tedeschi Trucks makes sense. So I assumed they were an old school skate punk band, in the same vein as Black Flag. As much as I love Henry Rollins, I am just not cut out for the music. Anyway, I even skipped going to see their shows because I never bothered to check them out, until a couple of years ago. Turns out, I love them. Not a little, they are exactly my kind of music. So that’s a long way to go to say, you should definitely try things or at least learn something about them before making any judgements. The same thing goes for today’s drink. I thought I knew what it was about, I had made assumptions and I was wrong. So join me as we stand and make, the Pimm’s Cup.
One of the nice things about these weird days we are living in, has been a refocus of our time. Granted, it sucks to not be going out, seeing friends, but there is a certain pleasure in not being pulled in a million directions. Life has a simplicity that was lacking. I could do with a better balance of excitement and simplicity, but you take your wins where you can get them. One of the things I have noticed, for our family and many others is the time to experiment. Laura and I have cooked all kinds of new things and this daily cocktail has been a real exercise in experimenting with new techniques and recipes. We have slowed down and taken the time to make some things we normally would not have, and usually, we have been excited to find just how easy some real treats are. That is sort of what happened here, so, join me as we stand and make, the Bananas Pajamas.
Jimmy said there’d be “good days and bad days and going half mad days” and I suppose it is true. I know that I have more than my fair share of half-mad days. I have had some damned good days though, along the way. Today, I am thinking about one of them in particular. One of my weird best days, a day on the road, seeking adventure and passing the time on the north coast of Africa in Tunisia. On this particular day, I remember drinking mint tea, plenty of that, some lovely Carthaginian White Wine and a refreshing gin and tonic, along with several liters of water. It was hot, dreadfully so. When I think of that wonderful day, I always think of a particular drink, one that I, not only, did not have that day but that did not even cross my sun-dazzled mind. We will get to the why in a bit, but first, join me as we stand and make, the Negroni.
When this all began, I thought it would be fun to make some drinks from home, since I wasn’t going out anymore. We had already been staying home, only going out for essential things and such, for about 6 weeks, I figured it would help to pass the time. Plus, I was getting low on our stash of “Is It Vinegar Yet?” fine wines and I was sort of enjoying writing my little shouts into the darkness. So, I started making a cocktail a day and sharing it with you. Part of it was to use up a bunch of alcohol that I had collected over the years, part of it was an excuse to be able to make jokes or social commentary in whatever we are calling “these uncertain times” this week. Part of it was to pass the time, learning new techniques, practicing things I had learned in classes, sharing the experience with the family. Mostly, it was to stay connected to the world. To reach out everyday and say something, to be heard, to hopefully entertain some folks and to feel that love coming back. Some times it has felt like a job, most days it has been one of the things I really look forward to, my little corner of happiness. The simplicity of the ritual. Laying out the tools and ingredients, mixing the drink, trying to capture a decent shot and then searching for the right words, typing them out on my phone’s keyboard. It has been a pleasure that I figured I would continue for a few weeks until the world seemed normal again. That was 75 cocktails ago and things are definitely not normal yet. I’m listening to Leonard Cohen today and reflecting on a lot of things, so if you came for the jokes, you might want to skip this one, it may get darker before the sun comes out. It may not, who knows? Honestly, this stuff is usually just sort of stream of consciousness and I may get all positive in the coming moments. Let’s find out together as we stand and make, the French 75.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Oscar Wilde who said ”The secret to life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.” I love that sentiment. The way it looks for the silver lining in a bad situation. It has also made me laugh during some tough times in life. When everything is falling down around you, to remember Oscar Wilde can be a good thing. He was just overflowing with pithy wisdom, I respect and envy that. I like the way it hinges on the word “appreciate”, not “enjoy”, not “love”, but “appreciate”. I try to approach life with an attitude of openness. I have found that most of the more interesting experiences I have had revolved around me saying yes, especially when I say it with some hesitation. So, when I watched a bartender I normally trust and respect extol the virtues of this oft-maligned drink, I said yes. Luckily, I was able to appreciate the pleasure of the experience. So, join me now as we stand and make, the Midori Sour.
This drink is a result of a few things coming together at the right time. We are on a tiki kick, because that is fun. We had fassionola, since Laura had made it for The Curse of Jean Lafitte the other day and I had this sweet rattlesnake mug that I have wanted to make a drink in. Since the stars aligned to make this drink possible, well mostly aligned anyway, join me as we stand and make the tiki classic, Cobra’s Fang.
I told ya’ll that teacup cocktails were going to be thing and here we are again. My mom is into fine china and crystal and dainty things that are easily crushed by huge monkey hands, so I am lucky enough to have access to the spoils of a lifetime of collecting and estate sales. One of the things I have always admired about mom’s approach to life is that things are meant to be used, not just looked at and dusted. Even with her encouragement, I am often more than a little nervous when using a bone china teacup I can nearly see through or, in this case, one encrusted in 24K gold. Still, I have wanted to make a drink in one of these cups for quite a while, and when I watched the folks from Dux Gins & Cocktails Borne make this one, I knew the time had come. So join me as we stand and make, the Earl Grey, Not.
Hard to believe we are way over into June and still making cocktails from quarantine. Worse than that there are more people that I know personally who are suffering from the virus at this moment than at any time since this started. There are lots of things to be depressed about, but I don’t have the energy for it. It’s Father’s Day and I got to spend it with the family and I got some sweet new tiki glasses so let’s make a drink. Since it’s Father’s Day lets make the Bahama Mama.