Time. That is what it comes down to, There is never enough time. Time to do all the things you had planned, to say the things not yet said. We waste so much of our time, waiting for the right moment, waiting for things to line up, for our money to get right. Waiting for a time that is never to come. Today is Thanksgiving and this is what I have been thinking about all day, how to make the most of the days we have left. Whether it is years or weeks, time is running out for all of us and when those last seconds tick away, what will we have left undone. So, let’s ponder using time wisely as we stand and make the Pumpkin Flip.
The flip is one of the oldest types of cocktails with the term first used in 1695. The first recipes don’t appear until Jerry Thomas’ “How to Mix Drinks“ in 1862. Flips are generally creamy sort of affairs, though the ingredients can be all over the place. One of the defining characteristics is the act of pouring the drink back and forth between two vessels in order to “flip” the cocktail several times in preparation. There are lots of classic recipes using this technique, so let’s do one using the ingredients of the day.
Grab your tins and pop in 1 1/4 ounces of gin, I chose New Amsterdam in honor of the parade that happened, even without the crowds. To that add 1 ounce of pumpkin puree, 1/2 an ounce of maple syrup, 1 bar spoon of demerara sugar, a whole egg, well not the shell, obviously, but all of the insides; and 2-3 drops of those contraband Tonka Bean bitters from far across the sea. Do not add ice, yet, first we are going for a dry shake to emulsify everything, so dock your tins together and go to shaking to the beat of “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime“ by Beck from the “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” soundtrack. You are gonna want to shake on the backbeat, cause the song is a little slow for getting that frothy emulsion we are looking for, but it is perfect for the mood on a reflective afternoon, so we’ve got to make some allowances. After you have gotten a decent shake, pop your tins apart and spend 30 seconds or so pouring the mixture back and forth. Clearly it is already mixed, but do it as a nod to tradition and to get some air into the mixture. Add some ice and give it a nice leisurely shake to chill the mixture down before straining into something lovely and grating a little fresh nutmeg over the top. Garnish with a couple of mini pumpkin pies and serve.
Isn’t that just lovely. A nearly perfect Thanksgiving cocktail. You get to repurpose some of that pumpkin puree into something more interesting than pie and it feels festive to drink it. I actually did an experiment after dinner and discovered that if you just scoop 1 ounce of the filling out of the pumpkin pie, you can use it in the drink and just leave out the demerara sugar, works just fine. You might even grab some of the crust to use as garnish, go crazy, have fun.
It is strange how some things just hit you. Watching the parade this morning I was overcome with emotion. Seeing so many people working so hard to make sure things seem normal on this most unusual of holidays. We are fortunate, because we all work together and since we are around each other all the time anyway, we were able to spend the holiday together as an extended family. I recognize my privilege and good fortune. But, I am not where I am supposed to be. I am supposed to be in Virginia for Thanksgiving enjoying the holidays with our family there. Liam is supposed to be terrorizing my niece and his grandparents whenever I am not dragging him off to hike through the knee deep leaves in Pratt Park or some other trails. Linda, my favorite Scottish barista, was supposed to have made my coffee this morning while we chatted about how things have been over the last year or so, as we have most every Thanksgiving morning for the last decade. So, as lucky as I am, I am also sad for what we have lost this year.
I’m not that old, but like so many of us, my mortality seems far more real this year than it ever has before. Perhaps, it is because we have lost so many friends and family members this year to Covid and other causes. Perhaps it is because every sickness, every little cough from a friend or family member or myself, has the spectre of coronavirus lurking there with the possibility of a sudden end, alone. Maybe, it is just my natural autumn melancholy or the often unrecognized pain of dealing with too much for too long without the normal ways to relieve the pressure, without the laughter of friends. We need each other, now more than ever. Which is challenging because the thing we need the most, that connection, is also a terribly selfish thing to seek. So we keep on keeping on and we think about time. Do we have enough time left to make up for this lost year? What kind of memories are we leaving if time runs out? I am more of a big bang sort of guy. I want the larger than life, candle burning twice as brightly, blaze of glory and this year feels more like that whimper, time slowly running down, like an old clock. So, as you think about family and friends on this day we have set aside to give thanks, do that. Be thankful for all of those folks in your life who make it worth living. Be thankful for those friends and family and random baristas you see once or twice a year. Be thankful for the people who will make you wish you had just a little more time when the clock finally stops. This journey is all we have, the destination doesn’t really matter, we are all going to get there. What does matter is the folks you travel with, so make the most of the time you have. Make sure they know that you love them and that without them in your life, you’d just be passing time. If you know me, you know I love you and I couldn’t do this without you. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay grateful, my friends