One of the best parts of getting older is learning just how ignorant you truly were back when you thought you knew it all. That seems to be a recurring theme with me, learning humility, mostly at the hand of my old, cocky self. I miswrote that as old, cocky elf and I really wanted to keep it. To go off on a tangent about that clever little fellow with the pointy ears and prodigious memory who would pop up from time to time, dispensing wisdom, while showing me the follies of the ghosts of former me’s long gone, but not forgotten. There is a great deal of fun to be had there, but I am not feeling up to it narratively today. So, ponder that and mourn the tale that might have been as we stand and make the Japanese Slipper.
This is a momentous day, indeed. I have learned a grand and glorious lesson. Yet another example of how my core beliefs can be shattered in a moment. You see, today is the day that I enjoyed a Midori cocktail. Yes, it is true. After years of railing against the ghastly green melon based liqueur, I have finally used it in a cocktail that I truly enjoyed, a drink that left me wanting more. Perhaps to wash down the crow, I knew I was going to have to eat. That’s ok. I am always open to learning more and changing my mind. That said, I never thought it would happen in this case and after years of making faces and sneering at the very mention of this spirit, I recognize that I am opening myself to reprimand and some hopefully good-natured ribbing. As the bard said, allegedly, “I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me because I have railed so long against Midori, but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.” To be fair, I do not take back any of the things I said in the past about this unholy neon draught. Whether we are talking about the Midori Sour, Leg Spreader, Horn of the Bulls, or the many other times I have complained about this too sweet, too melony, too green elixir, I don’t recant a single word. I am still not fond of the stuff, but I will admit that in this one example it soars.
This one is what they call a modern classic, but it’s really more of a throwback to it’s place in time. It was created in 1984 by Jean-Paul Bourguignon at Mietta’s in Melbourne, Australia. Yep, this neon green wonder of a drink showed at the height of 80’s culture, presumably driving a Lamborghini Countach and sporting a Member’s Only jacket. As the story goes, Bourguignon was given a bottle of a new melon liqueur from Japan by a sales rep, so he paired it with Cointreau and lemon juice to balance its sweetness and give some depth. Clearly, it worked, because this drink, or some variation of it, has graced menus around the world ever since.
It’s got citrus, so we are shaking things up. Grab your tins and pop in an ounce each of Midori, Cointreau and fresh squeezed lemon juice. This drink comes from the time without bitters, so toss in some ice and you are ready to shake. Toss a quarter in the jukebox and crank up Shelia E. singing about “The Glamorous Life” because in 1984, this drink was the perfect accessory to help establish your social dominance in the club, when paired with a white linen blazer and a skinny tie, of course. When well chilled, if you want to go old school and lean into this drink’s roots, serve it like a martini, double strained in a cocktail glass, with a maraschino cherry in the bottom and a lemon wheel. I took the, unusual for me, more sedate route and served mine in a Nick & Nora with a fancy lemon peel on a pick. Naturally, you must choose what is best for you.
What can I say? This is a good drink. Surprisingly good. Well balanced, cool, refreshing, it really has a lot going for it. One of those things is that, while it is present, the Midori doesn’t come screaming through kicking over tables and chairs, like it so often does. In this drink, it is just there with friends, trying to have a good time, not being extra at all. It is a bit on the sweet side, but not overly, or at least not in a bad way. This one really reminds me of a more interesting Kamikaze, which makes sense, since they have a similar build. Swapping in that Midori, was a stroke of genius. I feel like the one is a bit of an outlier, something magically wonderful in spite of itself and it’s time. 1984 had a lot of that going on, if you look back at the Top 100 that year, or the movies or nearly any form of entertainment, you can make a serious argument that the year Orwell feared was the most culturally relevant of our generation. Maybe it was a natural reaction to a date that had been viewed with suspicion and fear for so long. I do love the irony that the year of grey drabness in the world of Big Brother, turned out to be lively, vibrant and full of wonderful art. Even if we had only gotten Purple Rain that year, it would have been enough, but there was so much more. Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Springsteen’s Born in the USA, Madonna’s Like a Virgin, Van Halen’s 1984, Chicago 17, Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, Wham’s Make it Big, Iron Maiden’s Powerslave; the list goes on and on. In some ways it feels like the soundtrack of my life was mostly released in my 12th year. There was something magical going on in that time and place for a lot of us and definitely for me, mostly with Purple Rain playing in the background.
If I am honest, I am glad to have been proven wrong on this one. I knew that there was no way Midori had survived for so long without redeeming qualities. As it turns out, I had just not found the right carrier for it yet. That happens a lot. We all have things we are good at, but very few , if any, excel at everything. A big part of your success in life, is finding your lane and the right sort of folks to travel with. It’s all about strengths and weaknesses and landing in a place that rewards you for the things you are good at, whether that comes from natural talent or hard work. So, don’t get down on yourself, if you aren’t feeling appreciated in your current situation, just keep your eyes open for an opportunity to make a change, to make an adjustment and find your place in the world; because it is out there. This drink gives me faith, because if even Midori has a place in this world where it shines, well, then there is hope for you and me, too. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.