I dreamt last night of the past. Of people I haven’t seen in years. Of watching the world go by, sipping a glass of whiskey or a pint of the black stuff from my customary table in the corner of an Irish pub, a cigarette burning lazily in the ashtray. Wandering into a bar where your drink was sitting at your table by the time you got there. That got me thinking about old friends and Irish whiskey and a drink I’ve wanted to try, so join me now, as we stand and make, the Dublin Minstrel.
My grandfather used to tell me, “just do the best you can, till we can do better.” I love how he subtly reminded me that I was not alone, that help was coming, “do the best you can, until we can do better”. That was always comforting. Do your best, even when that is not enough, but don’t be content. The goal is to be better. To learn through the doing. Sometimes, you find yourself using a wrench to hammer something, Yeah, it is the wrong tool for the job, but you have to work with what you have got. Here is the key, you only do that until you can get a hammer, you accept hardships, you accept less than ideal conditions, but only until you can do better. Whatever it takes to get the job done. I like that. I take comfort in the idea that we should always strive to do better, but sometimes good enough is good enough. In that spirit I ask that you join me now as we stand and make, the original Strawberry Daiquiri.
Driving home today, I learned we have passed the grim threshold of 150,000 people dead from this virus. For my local folks, that’s the population of Murfreesboro. Imagine that. No, seriously, take a moment to imagine the entire population of the city just gone. What kind of a hole that leaves in the lives of those who have lost loved ones. Think about it hard and then post some insensitive crap about hoaxes and masks, show us all how much you care about your fellow humans, since this hasn’t touched your life directly. But I didn’t come here today to talk about avoidable deaths or skyrocketing case numbers, I came to talk about leadership. It’s a pretty simple thing, on it’s surface. To get things done, someone needs to take charge. There are all kinds of ways to do this, but at it’s core, it is all about getting the job done, or at least it should be. We get confused sometimes and mistake titles for leadership. It happens all the time, there are a lot of people in charge who have never been leaders and who don’t even want to be. B.B. King got it wrong when he sang about “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss”, it takes more than bringing home the bacon for folks to fall in line behind you. Leading is about responsibility. About taking care of people. Making sure that their best interests come first. They may not agree with you, or want to hear what is actually best, but making tough calls to protect your people, especially when it is unpopular, that is the true cost of being the boss. It also means being adaptable and changing as you learn more. Way back in early June, I asked you to join me in a classic Grasshopper Cocktail. It was really lovely and gave me a great opportunity to talk about prejudices and how not recognizing them makes us miss out on the good things in life. I felt pretty good about that and enjoyed the drink. I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. Well, I know more now and since I try to practice what I preach, I’ll ask you to join me once again as we stand and make the Improved Grasshopper 2.0.
I am on a bit of a bartender’s handshake kick. Like so many other things in life that I found myself unable to properly appreciate, I am suddenly and inexplicably enamored with bitter liqueurs. Perhaps it is as the bard said, “doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.” Perhaps it started with that bottle of Cynar or the Branca Menta I felt in love with, whatever the cause, I am drawn toward the darker, more herbal side of drinking. Since, I was making friends with more bitter drinks, I decided to revisit one I did not care for at all the first time I experimented with it. So grab your Underberg and join me as we stand and make, the Kräuter Sauer.
You know what it’s like, you find something cool and you want to make sure other folks get to check it out. I am pretty sure we are at our best, when we are sharing. The Dalai Lama said to “Share your knowledge, it is a way to achieve immortality.” So, we’ve got that going for us. The way I see things, if you are on social media and you aren’t creating your own content or showing me what you were wearing, eating drinking, etc. you better be sharing something of value. It doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, but it shouldn’t be mean either. That’s my opinion, you are free to go find your own. So, there’s your whole “sharing is caring” lead-in. Won’t you join me now as we stand and make the never-to-be-classic, Dead Men of Whiskey Sour
I made this “not even a cocktail” earlier today but then I got busy with the important business of life and completely forgot to post it. So, here we are with a nightcap, of sorts. I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, but we will have see how that turns out, brevity being the soul of wit and all. Join me now as we stand and make, the Hard Start.
When you find sweet, fresh Tennessee strawberries, how can you not drop everything and use them in a drink, seriously. Plus, it’s a stupid hot, humid, did you expect anything less from July in the South kind of day, and a cool drink is just what the doctor ordered. So join me as we stand and make a Strawberry Daiquiri, Actual.
Laura had the fire going when I got home and that got me to thinking about cooking out, eating under the stars and this unusual cocktail. It’s a bit of a weird one, to be sure and I don’t know if it’s going to work, but just because we may crash and burn, well that’s not gonna stop me from trying. So join me now, as we stand and make the BBB-Q Cookout.
First things first, this drink is not particularly good. It is not terrible, but it just isn’t anything special. What is worse is I kind of threw it together. It’s been a shit day and it’s raining and I don’t want a drink, but we don’t always get what we want and even when things suck and you aren’t sure how you are going to go on or if you even want to, there is still the work to be done. So, lose sight of your troubles for a moment as we stand and make, The Bishop.
I realized after I posted last night, that the centennial post did have an unintentional sort of farewell sound to it. That got me to thinking, I could just call it a good run and hang up the tins and my daily essays. For a moment I had a sense of relief. I wouldn’t have to think about this stuff anymore, I wouldn’t have to budget time for the writing, I could just make a drink because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to. So, rather than clarifying, I decided to sleep on it. This morning, while driving in to the office, I was super frustrated trying to process some of the policies our county has announced for the coming school year. I wanted to scream at the futility of it all, at the difference between a plan that truly tries to solve a problem and a plan that effectively covers the greatest number of school board butts and protects votes from the most vocal people who piled into the room to demand minimal action. I know a lot of folks aren’t affected by this, but to me it is very personal. To escape, I cranked up the radio, opened the sunroof and tried to let the frustrations slide away. As I intentionally distracted myself, my mind drifted into flavor profiles, shaking techniques, what drinks I wanted to explore in the next few weeks, what kind of ingredients and tools I should invest in next. I realized that making drinks for others and sharing them is something I have become passionate about. Without even realizing that I had made a decision, I began planning tonight’s drink, Otis Redding popped up on satellite radio roulette to remind me that “A Change is Gonna Come”, but not just yet. For now, we are gonna keep on, keeping on.