And with that, the calendar turns another page as we enter a new and unsuspecting year. What will this one hold? Who can tell? Who would tell if they knew? Pretty sure Shakespeare had something to say about that, the mystery of the womb of time and what not. I am a little apprehensive about this one, if I am honest, considering where the last couple have led us. I don’t have a clue about what is to come but, I am counting a some highs, balanced with some lows and a fair number of seemingly inconsequential lulls that will turn out to be more important than I realize until I get to the hindsight portion. “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”, Cinderella sang from the shoe store as we all went about our day worrying over mundane possibilities. That’s the human condition, right? What a piece of work is man, indeed. It’s safe to say that one of the few things that separates us from the animals is our ability to fear the mistakes we have not yet made, so with that in mind won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Noble Beast.

This drink was created by Anders Erickson around 2012 and is a riff on the classic Sherry Flip, a drink characterized by its use of a whole egg in the recipe. We have made a number of Flips over the years here at Stately Monkey Manor, with varying results. I loved the Death Flip, Banana Flip and French Toast Flip, but couldn’t make friends with the Two-Boil Flip. So the track record is good, but not spotless. To be honest Flips can be a bit much. That whole egg brings unparalleled creaminess, but also imparts a richness that just begs for the kind of moderation I have never quite gotten the hang of. The story goes that after making a Sherry Flip for a customer he was asked to follow it up with another flip, but with a little caffeine pick me up added and thus the Noble Beast was born.

I am excited about this one so let’s make it. Grab your tins and pop in 1 full ounce each of Angostura Bitters and Espresso. To that add 1/2 an ounce of Rich Demerara syrup and one whole egg, sans shell, naturally. That’s it. Seal your tins and give it a good dry shake for 15-25 seconds or so. Be careful when you open your tins since some pressure may have built up. Add some of that artisanal ice and give it a good shake to the gentle strains of Andrew Bird’s “Effigy“, off the album Noble Beast, that was playing in the bar when Anders put the finishing touches on this lovely concoction. Double strain into something fancy and pre-chilled before garnishing with a coffee bean floated on the foam.

When I first saw this cocktail, I knew I was going to love it; and I do. Coffee and ango are right up my alley. This build has a lot of bitter going on, but that rich demerara balances it all nicely and lets the herbal loveliness of the angostura really shine through. On the flip side, see what I did there? The acidity from the coffee is taken up by the egg for a surprisingly well-balanced drink that is rich and decadent, without being too rich or too decadent. This is a great alternative to the Egg Nogs, Buttered Rum and Tom and Jerry creamy drinks of winter, a more nuanced and sophisticated option, if you will.

Lat year was a rough one, for many of us. I watched helplessly as so many of my friends suffered grief and loss, never quite sure what to say or do to try to ease things in some way. I felt equally helpless dealing with my own pains as the overdue payments for years of mistreating myself suddenly came due. C.S. Lewis called pain “God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” He was right, pain does “insist upon being attended to”, but I truly wish that were not the case. There is too much suffering, too many being roused, too little succor to make things more bearable. It seems like age brings more and deeper losses and I don’t know if things will get easier or not. I do know this though, the trip is worth it.

I have tried to explain this to my son, when I think of a lost friend and the tears escape my eyes, which happens way more these days than it used to. I have tried to help him understand that the pain I feel now, is equal to the love I felt then. That the only way to feel deep grief is to have loved deeply. So, in a way, they are tears of joy remembered. I figure it is the price we pay for love and in that way grief is a blessing of sorts, though it can be hard to remember that lesson. As Vision so aptly put it, “What is grief, if not love persevering?” As this new year begins, may we all remember the joy hiding in our pain and find some comfort there as we stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.