We use milestones to measure time, that would otherwise slip past unremarkably. This is why we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and mourn past tragedies when the dates arise. We mark beginnings and endings, like the first day of school and the eventual graduation, and so many little milestones along the day. First steps, lost teeth, learning to ride a bike, these little accomplishments that remind us of just how much has changed while time was marching inexorably onward. It is funny, you don’t realize how quickly things change, if you aren’t keeping up. Today, the death toll from this virus that started me writing again crossed over 191,000. If there is a silver lining, it is that death’s have slowed recently, as case counts have continued to climb. Today also marks 150 cocktails from quarantine. Hard to believe, but I guess we better keep it going, so please, won’t you join me now as we stand and make, the Spicy 50.

I let this one sneak up on me, so I have not carefully curated a drink for this most auspicious occasion. In fact, this drink was originally selected as a possibility for a 50th birthday post, but did not make the cut. In my infinite laziness, instead of digging deep for the perfect drink today, I saw that this one had a 50 in the name and that I had the ingredients on hand, so here we are. This one was originally created by Salvatore Calabrese as a signature drink for his bar, Fifty in London. I am a big fan of spicy cocktails, especially when served ice cold, so this one is right up my alley.

Grab your tins and pop in about half a chile de arbol, a jalapeño will work here as well, but I had picked these up from the farmers market. Slice it up, add 3/4 of an ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice and muddle for a bit. Next toss in 1 3/4 ounces of vanilla vodka, I went with Corsair; 3/4 an ounce of elderflower liqueur, St. Germain, naturally; 2-3 dashes of El Guapo Fuego Bitters and 1/2 an ounce of honey syrup. Add some ice and shake to the beat of “She Talks to Angels“ cause I am feeling that Black Crowes vibe today. You are probably gonna want to listen while you mix, cause the beginning is a bit slow for shaking, but once those drums kick in you will be good to go. Your tins should be good and chilled by the time she pulls the shades down tight, so double strain into something pretty and garnish with a chile you’ve been drying. A fresh one might be better here, but I inadvertently cut them all up making this drink and a tincture to be shared later. Anyway, a little slice in the chile will let you hang it on the side of the glass to make a nice effect.

This is the kind drink I normally love. There is something about a spicy bite arriving on the end of an ice cold sip that I adore. I had high hopes here, but this one is good, not great. It may very well be my fault. I am not getting the level of heat that I expected, even though these chiles were pretty hot. Who knows, maybe the one I selected didn’t rise to the occasion heat wise. There is a lot of sweet in this drink too, so maybe my choice of alcohols pushed it out of balance. To be fair, it is not bad, it just feels like something is missing. It needs a little push somewhere.
That is how it goes sometimes. Things work out, but not as well as they could have. There is a lot of that going around lately. Maybe too much “good enough”. I’m guilty of it today though. Here we are 150 cocktails in and I don’t have too much to say. I am kind of like John Coffey today, “I’m tired, Boss; Mostly, I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There’s too much of it.” No doubt about that, there is too much of it. All I know to do is to keep on keeping on. Keep fighting the good fight and trying to raise the joy quotient of the world, if just a little. Y’all keep trying too. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.