I did not really intend to take a month off, but sometimes life happens. We got busy in the new year and honestly, this man did not have a thirst, at all. That evolved into a “mostly” dry January, which to be honest was a nice break. I am big on doing things with intention rather than out of habit. Choosing to not drink was a small thing, since I don’t really drink that often, except when I have a thirst. As I have said many times before, if I feel like I need a drink, I am not likely to actually have one. Like I said, it is all about intention. So, here we are with a new month and a new day in a new year; sounds like a great time to make a fresh start with a new drink. So with faith in better things to come won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Al Amanacer.

It was kind of an interesting journey to find this drink. The name means, “at dawn” in Spanish and I am a big fan of that imagery, letting go of the darkness and greeting the new day. I haven’t always been that way, but I am trying to be better about brooding. It was created by Heather Dodderer at Herbie’s Vintage 72 in St. Louis. I discovered it, completely by accident, while watching cocktail videos to research Cafe Brulot. I made notes, another video started, just like the advertisers pay it to, that is when I noticed a jar of Captain Rodney’s Hot Pepper Jelly on the counter and dropped everything. There was my pirate-ified face staring back at me from a jar of pepper jelly that we made right here in our little factory in Tennessee. How we ended up in a St. Louis local food segment from 2010, I have no idea. We sell the stuff all over the country, so it’s not that weird, but it is still cool to see your work out in the world. I had never heard of the show or the drink but there we were on the small screen. Kinda cool, how things from the past sometimes float to the surface. So, how could I not make the cocktail?

This one is shaken, so grab your tins and toss in 2 ounces of Añejo tequila, I went with Kah Añejo in that cool Memento Mori skull; 3/4 of an ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice, 3/4 ounce of passion fruit concentrate, 1/2 an ounce of grenadine and 1 teaspoon of that national award-winning Captain Rodney’s Hot Pepper Jelly. Add ice and give it a good shake to the beat of “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. In the video they served it on the rocks in a tumbler, but their description says and shows it with pebble ice in a chilled cocktail glass, so I’m gonna land somewhere in the middle with crushed ice in a hybrid cocktail rocks glass. Beyond the obvious aesthetic considerations, choosing crushed ice is also choosing violence and sometimes pounding an ice filled Lewis bag with a wooden mallet is just the ticket to help work out the frustrations of the day. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel and serve, with a smile, if you are into that sort of thing.

That tastes like a drink. Not my usual sort of drink, but nice enough. It’s a bit too sweet for me, but I guessed that looking at the build. The wife enjoyed it after I popped a straw in there. I can see this one as a nice poolside sipper, more of a lazy afternoon drink that one served at dawn. I find that the passion fruit puree tends to overpower drinks, so I’d be tempted to cut it back and definitely back off on the grenadine. That said, the tequila, lime and pepper jelly combination was really nice, it just got buried under all that sugar. Maybe we could take this as a jumping off point for a pepper jelly margarita. I could go for that. Or really kick the pepper up in this one with little habañero shrub paired with a nice smoky mezcal and call it “Pistolas al Amanacer” to lean into the other side of doing things “at dawn”.

Al Amanacer, at dawn, a new beginning, a chance to get it right this time. Change is frightening. No, it is more than frightening, it is fucking terrifying, but make no mistake, it is going to happen. No matter how much we wish against it, things change and all we can do is pick up the pieces and move forward, hopefully leaving some of the darkness behind. Reagan famously declared “a new day in America”, but it is hard to know when that beginning comes. It is not like in the movies, the big moments rarely come surrounded by fanfare and heraldry; you don’t hear the music swell as your life suddenly changes. Hell, half the time you aren’t even present when those decisions are being made. As much as I try to live my life with direction and intention, being captain of my own fate and all, I am shocked at how often I am really just reacting to other folks. I sometimes feel like life is a lot more about the illusion of choice when I am really just being backed from one corner to another, hoping to survive long enough to recover from one blow before the next one falls. I know I am not special, we all have our struggles and most of us believe we are right. I think the only way we really get through things is together, finding your tribe and taking care of each other. Sometimes that is not enough, but all you can do is try to take care of the folks who take care of you, keep a positive outlook and know that sometimes, as painful as it is, the right thing to do is walk away. So, when things are at their darkest, look forward to that brighter day just beyond the horizon. I can almost see it now, like those boys from Liverpool said “here comes the sun” and, I say, it’s alright; or at least it is going to be…eventually. Stay safe, stay hydrate and stay sane, my friends.