Today marks one year of official pandemic life. It is hard to believe. In some ways it feels like it has been forever since we lived “normal” lives, on the other hand it feels like just a few weeks ago when we were freaking out trying to find masks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper. It is amazing how much life has changed in the last 365 days. How much more we know about the disease that changed all of our lives. How much we have lost over that time, how many friends and family members are no longer with us. How much we have gained in appreciation of each other and the things that really matter in life. How much we have learned in how to be self sufficient or maybe I should say pod sufficient. I know that my zombie apocalypse team requirements and expectations of who would make it have changed significantly. It has been quite a journey and now we can finally see a safe harbor on the horizon, if we can just stay the course a little longer. This is the toughest part, holding on when every part of your fiber longs to be with friends again. When that temptation calls out to you from the shore, beckoning you to come visit, after all you deserve a break, right? So, in the spirit of doing the hard things, especially when you don’t want to, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Song of the Siren.

This one comes to us from the pages of  “Tiki: Modern Tiki Cocktails”  by Shannon Mustipher, who has really revitalized the modern Tiki scene with her inspired approach to the genre. I love reading her work, getting a feel for the drinks while dreaming of new things to make. I have heard this one referred to as a shapeshifter, since it has a different flavor from what you might expect just looking at it. That’s cool, I like surprises. I especially love those drinks that make more dramatic changes over time as they dilute or warm up, like the Ice-Berg or the Kräuter Sauer. I am not seeing anything in this one that should have that big a shift, but this is my first time playing with Braulio, so I hopefully I will learn something.

Grab your tins and pop in 1 ounce of Rhum Agricole Blanc, I chose Rhum J.M.; 1/2 an ounce of Mezcal, I went with Del Maguey Vida; 1/2 an ounce of creme de cacao, 3/4 of an ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/2 an ounce of pineapple juice and 2 drops of Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole Bitters. Add some artisanal ice cubes and give it a good shake to the beat of “Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby” by Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss. Sure it’s slow and you are going to have to work a bit to get that beat right, but I think it is going to be worth it to shake this one to actual sirens singing. Give it a try, for you and me…and the devil makes three. When those tins are good and cold don’t strain at all, but go for a dirty dump into a footed pilsner glass lined with a banana leaf. I told y’all we were gonna use those leaves a lot, while they last. Pro tip, like a lot of things, it is easier to get the leaf to stay in place if you wet it first. Top with pebble ice, pop in a reusable glass bamboo straw from Surfside Sips and float 1/2 ounce of Braulio Amaro on top.

That is surprising, indeed. I really expected more of a sweet tropical thing, but this one has more of a tart taste on the front end, passing through an interesting bitter profile to a long chocolate finish. I like it, I really do, but when you see that big glass of banana leaf and the pineapple juice you just don’t expect that awesomely refreshing tart to chocolate thing. I did not get a lot of evolution in the flavor, since all that pebble ice kept things nice and cold without a lot of extra dilution. To be fair, this one did not really last long enough to have much of a chance to work through things and make positive changes in its short life. It was too good to leave sitting. I would do two things differently, next time. I would use clear creme de cacao, instead of the dark stuff, just hoping to get a lighter color to the drink and maybe more contrast between it and the Braulio float. Secondly, I would strain the drink into pebble ice instead of dumping the used cubes in the bottom. I just prefer the look and it will make using the straw easier. I fought those cubes with the straw and you just don’t have time for that in your life.

Like Odysseus, I have heard that Siren’s song so often of late. That nearly irresistible call of the journey, to travel again, to explore new places, to see old friends and have the adventures you can only find on the road. We are nearly there. I can see that rocky shore, just off the bow, and the Sirens call me to join them. Luckily, the rest of the crew filled their ears with beeswax, so they are going to guide the ship right around the point to the safe harbor that is waiting for all of us. This is the tough part, when you can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is why so many fail just when the goal comes in reach. We’ve been running this marathon for a year now and we are all tired. We all just want to rest, but we’ve got to push just a little bit harder for a little bit longer, to get to the other side.

I know I am feeling that desire to let my guard down. So far, we have taken quarantine pretty seriously. We do our best to look out for my Grandma who lives next door, so weighing the desire for a night out against continuing to be able to help her was an easy call. As she and more folks get vaccinated, we can begin to see our own world expanding once again. I had my second dose recently and I am excited at the idea of getting back out in the world with some semblance of normalcy. I also know that the smart thing, is for me to stay around home for a couple of more weeks before making any big changes. I might as well wait till the arm stops hurting, anyway. This weekend will mark a year since I have eaten inside a restaurant and I am missing it, but I can wait a little longer. After spending a year, watching planned trips approach before cancelling them and taking them off the calendar, today, I added a new trip. Maybe I am being optimistic that folks will “do the right thing” and things will continue to get better, but it felt good to be making actual plans again. Well, plans that don’t involve zoom calls or baking bread or making pasta or watching concerts from the sofa. Not that I haven’t enjoyed some aspects of this introspective year, but at times it has felt like Circe was trying to fatten us up and keep us on the island. So, I’m about ready to stretch my wings a bit and I can’t wait to see y’all again. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.