Growing up in Miami I had a real love for Cuban food and culture that made me look longingly toward our nearest neighbor to the south. I always wanted to go to Havana and see those beautiful old hotels and bars with my own eyes. Of course, I am a child of the 70’s and the embargo guaranteed that all I could do was look. So, when we finally got the opportunity to visit legally, we jumped at it. I loved our time there, exploring the city, enjoying the food, culture and the cocktails. One of the things I looked most forward to was visiting the Hotel Nacional to sip on their signature cocktail while enjoying a hand-rolled Cuban cigar. That worked out, mostly, until about 30 seconds in when I remembered that even when it is one of the finest cigars on earth, I really just don’t enjoy actually smoking one. My day was much improved, when I gave up the fine stogie and focused on the cocktails and company. It turns out that some things are better in imagination than reality and that is why we experiment, to find what works for us. So with a nod toward that perpetual voyage of self-discovery, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the 100 Year Old Cigar.Continue reading
There is something about a bold booze forward cocktail slowly diluting over one big cube in a rocks glass. It has a gravitas that anything served with a straw in a highball or up in a coupe just can’t match. Of course, that’s all image, there are a ton of drinks served on a rock that go down smooth and even more frilly and silly tropical drinks that will knock you on your butt, but somehow that perception persists. They are the serious drinks, for serious drinkers. Taking that glass in hand, swirling it slowly by the fire while contemplating the unasked question, practically begs for a leather armchair and an impeccably tailored suit. “Dignity, always dignity” he’d answer, looking off into the distance before taking a slow measured sip and returning to his thoughts. That’s my kind of moment, but not always my kind of drink. So, with a nod toward the little tales we tell ourselves, won’t you join me now as we stand and make, the Don Lockwood.Continue reading
Looking back on a half-century of life well wasted, I am truly shocked at how many of the things that kept me up at night did not amount to a hill of beans. Not that they didn’t matter or weren’t consequential in some way, but in how the things I worried myself sick about seemed to just disappear in recollection. Looking back, there are only a handful of times that stick out as those critical moments when I chose to go left when I could have gone right and ended up on a new path. It’s funny how it all seemed so important at the time only to have those crises fade into obscurity, evaporating like fog in the morning sun of hindsight. I fear I have spent too much time sitting on the end of the runway worrying whether my decisions would help me slip the surly bonds of earth and soar or crash and burn on the symbolic ash heap of my personal history. So with a nod toward that aeronautical metaphor, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Brace Position.Continue reading
Just when you think you have seen it all before, life will surprise you. For a moment, anyway. The closer you look though, the more you realize that so many so-called innovations are really just variations on a theme. I guess they are right when they say that the more things change, the more they stay the same and there really is nothing new under the sun. So, with a nod toward Ecclesiastes and evolution, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Sandfly.Continue reading
O’ you lost and forgotten child,
cup of memory from a time more mild.
When winter’s chill was not yet come,
you were born and placed in the album.
There you waited, your story unwritten,
blind and lost as a newborn kitten.
Will you join us as we explore the past?
Remember the forgotten, their part recast.
While the spring winds blow and thunders clash
Help us mix the Autumn Ash.
I went to a funeral today. My great uncle passed quietly in his sleep at the age of 97 while I was out of town. I accompanied my grandma as she said farewell to her brother and could not help thinking how most of that generation is gone now. The people I grew up looking up to, the leaders of the family. All those great aunts and uncles, stepping up to take their turn as elders before moving on to whatever comes next. It gives one pause. Lin Manuel sang, “I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory” in Hamilton, and I get it. Though it never used to cross my worried mind, the older I get the mori memento-ing I find myself doing. So, with thoughts of that undiscovered country, I am not ready to explore yet, won’t you join me now as we stand and make, the Fernet Ramos.Continue reading
Wisdom comes from odd places. I’ve learned a lot in my nearly half century of making questionable choices. Although, I am big on preaching about saying yes to life, getting out there taking chances and experiencing new things, if I am honest, there’s a lot to be said for the comforts of home. I get that. I am all about being comfortable, especially in your own skin. That’s how I am made. Howling Wolf got it right, “I’m built for comfort, I ain’t built for speed; but I got everything all the good girls need.” What is it they need, exactly? Well, the ladies like things comfortable too, so with that in mind won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Flannel Shirt.Continue reading
This is quite the conundrum isn’t it? Is it a drink? Is it a dessert? Are those things mutually exclusive? Do we need a spoon, a straw or is this a dive right in experience? So many questions, so little information floating around in this old monkey head. Bob Seger used to sing about “workin’ on mysteries without any clues” but maybe if we poke around a bit, we can get to the bottom of things. So, with that in mind, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Southern Scotsman.Continue reading
“Sometimes, you can almost smell her perfume on the wind. Almost.” he said, to no one in particular. That faraway look told me he wasn’t really with us in that moment and I did not want to intrude, wherever he had wandered. I got it, though. It’s usually the other way around for me. A passing scent suddenly evoking a memory of a time, place or face long gone. They say that smell is more connected to memory than the other senses combined and I believe it. Still, I knew what he was feeling. It wasn’t quite pain and not quite joy, just a recognition of loss. So, in the spirit of people, places and things long gone, but still alive in our memories, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Scotch Violets.Continue reading
Everyone has secrets, this is known, Khaleesi. We all keep things buried inside that we do not share with the world, sometimes we do not even share them with ourselves. I try to be pretty open with everyone about most things. I like to say I have no secrets, but that is a lie. My mind is filled with little bits I choose not to share about myself, but more often the thoughts remain secret because they are not mine to share. As much as I try to be open about myself, I will straight lie to your face in order to protect someone else’s secret. Is that right? I don’t know. I did not make the rules. Hell, I wasn’t even here when the game started, but I play my hand the way I was taught. So, in honor of the secrets kept and those spilled along the way, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the Clandestine.Continue reading