There are safe places. Little corners of solitude, under the radar spots where you can slip away from the world outside for a few moments. We need those. Sometimes these spots are found in nature, an overlook that takes hours to hike to. Sometimes they are much closer, a quiet corner of your backyard, your hammock. While it is often a feeling associated with a place, a lot of times, these places exist only in memory. Laying in the floor on one of those rope rugs, listening to your grandpa tell stories, having coffee with an old friend gone too soon, standing in the spotlight while people applaud. I have found that the reason a place feels safe has a lot more to do with the people than the place. Which brings us to tonight’s drink, so join me now as we stand and make, the Bastion Overproof Daiquiri.
This is another drink from Brad Thomas Parsons wonderful book, Last Call. I was pleased to find several bars I have visited over the years featured, but especially happy to see one of Nashville’s hidden treasures get a chapter. Bastion is an amazing place. It has the feel of a cool neighborhood dive, but with an excellent cocktail program adjacent to one of our best restaurants, though you can frequent the bar and never know the restaurant is there. It is not my bar, I never feel like I belong there. Honestly, I usually feel like I am a good decade too old for the place, but they have always tried to make me feel welcome. It feels like an industry bar. I can honestly only think of a few times that I have ended up there when I was not in the company of industry folk after we closed down their place. Did I mention that Bastion is walking distance from Corsair HQ? Now you see why I love it. We have drifted down that way several times after a cocktail class to grab some nachos, have someone else make the drinks and unwind. Being reasonably familiar with their excellent bar program, I was a little surprised at the choice for the last drink, but in retrospect, it makes sense. It is simple and clean and packs a punch. Let’s make it.
This is a straightforward riff on a Classic Daiquiri, with a unique rum choice. Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum, it has a wonderful flavor and 126 proof gives it a nice burn; add 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/2 an ounce of rich simple syrup, that is the same concept as simple syrup but with a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. I added two drops of 18-21 Bitters Havana and Hide, because I cannot help myself. Add ice and shake to the beat of “Billie Jean” on vinyl, preferably, till your tins get cold. It’s a good shaking song and it played shortly after we walked in the first time Spencer, Rachel and Chris introduced me to Bastion and their bucks. Double strain into a Nick & Nora and garnish with a lime twist.
This is not my drink, but I get it. I totally do. It is weird that I say that this is not my thing, because I get the distinct feeling I am going to crave it again. The overproof is balanced by the rich simple and the lime brings it all together. I am always amazed at a good daiquiri and how something so simple can have such complexity of flavor. If you have Wray & Nephew, make this drink, and you should have Wray & Nephew. It is the goto overproof white rum, so make the small investment. I mean, if you are into that sort of thing.
We have had some wonderful drinks and conversations there at the bar or in the bleachers. One that came back to me this week was a late night chat with a friend about her husband and she someday living along the Appalachian Trail and becoming a trail angel. For those who are not familiar, there are folks who live along the trail who open their homes or outbuildings to hikers as they pass through. Sometimes offering a meal or a shower or a ride to the store to replenish. Sometimes just handing out cookies and lemonade. Trail angels are truly amazing, people who choose to go out of their way to help out perfect strangers on a daily basis. Folks who pick up extra stuff at the grocery, in case they get the chance to share with someone else. These are the people who are truly building longer tables instead of walls. It was funny, because as we talked it dawned on me that she didn’t realize she was already living that dream. She was already the kind of person who helped people whenever she could. In fact we had only met because she had chosen a career based on making people feel welcome and keeping them safe. Hospitality in its true form. That was when it hit me that many of these safe spaces in my life are created by these angels without a trail. That the places I love, are always filed with these incredibly rare people, the ones who make a place safe, who make it feel like home.
Maybe that is what we need more of. Imagine a world where we are all trail angels, in our own little way. Sharing with folks for the pure joy of it. Making things better, when we can. Lifting burdens or at least helping to share them. At Gettysburg, Lincoln talked about the people of our nation coming together after the war, “when again touched, as they surely will be, by the better angels of our nature.” I like the thought of that. I want to believe that we are, at heart, good. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that, for the most part, people are decent. That people want to help each other. That we would rather look past our differences and find unity. Lincoln also said, that same day, “Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.” I like the optimism of that. Our bonds of affection as a society are strained now, and many want to push us further apart, but we can be and must be better than that. We must find ways to come together and to do that, we need safe places. We need a place to talk, to think, to share and for that to happen, we need those angels, keeping the light on for us, making us feel welcome. Y’all give me faith. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.