Welcome to day two of the Thirteen Drinks of Halloween. Yesterday we explored taking a basic drink, changing an ingredient and giving it a new spooky name. We also frowned upon that, because we are judgmental. Today we are going a different route, taking a drink that has a slightly spooky name and presenting it in the spirit of the season. Please join me now as we stand and make, the classic Blood and Sand.
I was thinking about the devil tonight and his gambling habit. Seemed like the right thing to do, don’t ask me why. I recalled the lyric “Now, you play a pretty mean fiddle boy…” and thought to myself, what constitutes a “mean fiddle”? Does it bite? Refuse the rosin? Whisper insults in your ear while you play? It would make more sense for the devil to be the one playing the mean fiddle, then I would understand it better. A mean fiddle is one that refuses to sound like a violin and goes with a funky bass thing. You’d be surprised just how long I went down this path, before I came up for air. It was definitely long enough to get a thirst, so won’t you join me now as we stand and make The Mean Fiddler.
I was going to take the evening off, not make a drink at all, not write about it, not even take any pictures of that drink I was not going to make. My wife and I are celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary, so I figured no one would mind if we took the night off. We enjoyed a lovely bottle of mead I picked up a couple of years ago that we never got around to opening. I was ready to curl up on the sofa with some soft music and a book to wait out the child falling asleep, but she had other plans. Soon I was back in the kitchen, using some new tools to fill some new glasses, cause that’s my job. So, please join me now, as we stand and make the Tiki Peat.
We all knew it was coming. Well, a couple of thousand of my closest friends did, anyway. I should be in Rome this weekend, laughing with friends, eating at Jamwich every other meal, setting new records in their escape rooms, grabbing drink at The Forge and generally having a great time. We couldn’t get together for our long weekend of foolishness and adventure this year, but we’ve still got our memories. So, in honor of the fun we’ve had and the fun yet to come, won’t you join me now as we stand and make The Racketeer.
Magic is wonderful. It can make us believe in possibilities, in a world that we have only glimpsed. A lot of the time, we know it is only a trick, that we are being fooled, but there is a certain pleasure in a little lighthearted deception. Oscar Wilde said that “The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived” and magic, when it is done well, fits that bill. It is a funny thing, just how much we enjoy having the wool pulled over our eyes, so to speak. All entertainment relies on the willing suspension of disbelief. That wonderful ability to set your rational mind to the side for a bit and believe that heroes can fly or that we could create harmony on a planetary level before heading out into the stars to boldly go where no one has gone before. Magic takes another deeper level of disbelief. We know someone is trying to fool us and we are watching carefully to see how they are going to trick us, how they are going to appear to do that which we know is impossible and they usually succeed. Through years of practice and the careful application of science they are able to fool us, often using very simple tools. So let’s take a look at deception and a couple of the original tools of the trade. Won’t you join me now as we stand and make, Smoke and Mirrors.
We are all chasing something. Maybe it’s the right house or job or partner. Maybe it’s that perfect lyric, the hook that makes the song. Maybe it is finally getting the smoke ring just right in your brisket. There are lots of things worth chasing. Honestly, most of us are chasing lots of things at the same time. While we are working at the next big thing on the career path, we are also seeking out that rare tiki mug or a Corgi Batmobile, while reading Kierkegaard to broaden our understanding of leaps of faith, as we strive to be better partners, parents and children in a world where the rules keep changing so quickly that may have given up on trying to understand and just cling to symbols as some sort of anchor in the storm. There is a lot going on out there and it drives me to distraction some days, that is one of my coping mechanisms, finding something to focus on that helps me close out the things that keep me awake at night. Daily chases and long term quests help with that. Today’s drink is another step on a long term quest, a puzzle that has been in the back of my mind for a couple of years now. If there are those among you who also yearn for knowledge, who feel the call to discern that which is hidden, I ask that you join with me now, as we stand and make, The Traveling Banana.
I realized after I posted last night, that the centennial post did have an unintentional sort of farewell sound to it. That got me to thinking, I could just call it a good run and hang up the tins and my daily essays. For a moment I had a sense of relief. I wouldn’t have to think about this stuff anymore, I wouldn’t have to budget time for the writing, I could just make a drink because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to. So, rather than clarifying, I decided to sleep on it. This morning, while driving in to the office, I was super frustrated trying to process some of the policies our county has announced for the coming school year. I wanted to scream at the futility of it all, at the difference between a plan that truly tries to solve a problem and a plan that effectively covers the greatest number of school board butts and protects votes from the most vocal people who piled into the room to demand minimal action. I know a lot of folks aren’t affected by this, but to me it is very personal. To escape, I cranked up the radio, opened the sunroof and tried to let the frustrations slide away. As I intentionally distracted myself, my mind drifted into flavor profiles, shaking techniques, what drinks I wanted to explore in the next few weeks, what kind of ingredients and tools I should invest in next. I realized that making drinks for others and sharing them is something I have become passionate about. Without even realizing that I had made a decision, I began planning tonight’s drink, Otis Redding popped up on satellite radio roulette to remind me that “A Change is Gonna Come”, but not just yet. For now, we are gonna keep on, keeping on.
There is not a lot of process here. Sure there is a format, but mostly it is off the cuff and I don’t really have any idea where we are going with these drinks and commentary. Hell, I am often as surprised as you are when we take one of these hard turns halfway through. That’s a big part of the fun for me, to do some research, make a cocktail and then just riff for awhile. My intent is to do a bit of a “behind the scenes” thing today, but I often start with good intentions, we will just have to see where we end up. So, join me now as we stand and make, the To Hell With Spain.
Procrastination is a thing. You know this. In fact, science has shown that there is a 86.753% chance that the only reason you are reading this right now is that you are avoiding doing something else. In fact, only .09% of you reading these words actually set out to listen to me ramble through some thinly veiled commentary about life under the guise of making you a drink, or teaching you to make your own drink, which is way more efficient, if current angling models are to be believed. Anyway, the thing is, I have been putting off making this drink for a while. There is never going to be a right time to make this one, but today stars aligned partly and the time is mostly right, so join me as we stand and make, the Aggravation.
Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” has popped up a lot for me lately. I’ve always loved it, a song of questions, reminding us of the trade offs we make along the way. Inviting us to examine how we got here, what we gave up, without really asking if things are better. Are they? I don’t know, it sure doesn’t feel like it, but they say it is always darkest before the storm. I know one thing is for certain, there are a whole lot of folks that I wish were here. So settle in, get a little introspective and join me as we exchange our walk on parts in the war for “The Leading Role” in a cage, so to speak.