I am never quite sure how you measure success. I am pretty sure it is something other people achieve, it always just escapes my grasp. Call it impostor syndrome if you wish, but no matter what I do, I never quite feel like I have made enough of a difference in the world. Even with the good stuff, there is always a way we could have done it better or helped more people. It’s ok, I am used to it, even when the story runs above the fold with a headline and color picture, there has to be something we could do better. So, with a nod toward making a difference, even when it doesn’t quite feel like it, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the reader submitted, That’s Hot.

You heard that right, this drink was submitted by a reader who enjoys my occasional shouts into the abyss, allegedly. That feels like an achievement, because it means people are listening and maybe learning something. I said people, and I guess technically having one person send you a cocktail to make is only evidence of a person, but you get the gist. Assuming your name is not Graham and you aren’t ten years old, then the very act of you reading these words means there are at least two of you and that means people are reading!

This drink comes to us from Graham R. from Franklin, Tennessee. Not only does Graham not run the bar program at anywhere, but he has never actually been in a bar or experienced alcohol. Normally, this would be a detriment to cocktail creation, but since he is only ten years old, we are going to cut him some slack. To be fair, this was submitted as a mocktail with optional alcohol and everyone knows I am a big fan of optional alcohol. We are going to make both versions and see how things turn out.

Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of freshly squeezed lemon juice, one ounce of orange juice, ten drops or roughly 1/4 ounce of chile hot sauce (more, if you dare), I chose Sriracha; 1 ounce of simple syrup (to taste) and I decided to add 2 stabs of angostura bitters to bring balance to the force. If you are going for a mocktail, you can skip ahead. My first instinct was to make this with an interesting American style gin, but when I went to the bar to grab a bottle I spotted Clyde Mays Alabama Style Whiskey and I just could not resist tossing in 2 ounces. Add ice and give that a good shake to the beat “The Action” by Keb Mo, cause it’s all about getting out there and actually doing the thing. When your tins are well chilled strain into a large cocktail glass and top with some soda water, I opted to lean into the citrus side of this one and use some Limoncello flavored La Croix. Garnish with a dried jalapeño and two basil leaves.

It’s definitely citrus forward, very bright and then that chile pepper hits. The basil garnish brings a lovely nose to it that helps to balance things a bit. It has a definite heat element but it is on the back side of the flavor. The whiskey gets lost a bit in there. Alabama style whiskey was originally aged with green apples on the finish, and I thought that apple note would play well here. It works but it is not strong enough to stand up to all that tart citrus. The original gin inclination was probably a better choice, but this is not bad. As a mocktail, I would add another half an ounce or more of the simple syrup, just to sweeten things up a bit, two ounces of lemon is a lot to overcome, but a nice cold lemonade with a chile kick is lovely. That soda water topper is an inspired choice as well, really ties things together and sells this one as a sipper. I just love the fizzy bubbles.

I wasn’t sure what to think about this one and I wanted to stay as close as I could to the recipe. The good news is, it works and could be a fun jumping off place for experimentation. That said, I sort of love this cocktail, not so much for the drinking but simply because it did not end as a thought. Graham was inspired to create something and then followed through on it. There is a lot to be said for getting things done. I know I often have trouble getting started on anything and sometimes it can be challenging to work all the way through a problem, but Graham has cracked the code on something I have always struggled with, once he had his answer, he stepped up and shared it. Takes nerve to put yourself out there like that and I applaud the young fellow for taking the action.

I’d be remiss here, if I did not mention that I am friends with Graham’s parents. Since they know me well, I can only assume that they allow him to read my words as an opportunity to explore teachable moments, as I am far from a role model. I’d get kicked out of Kindercare for my language alone, way before we got around to my provocative thoughts and dangerous teachings. In an effort to avoid a Socrates Cocktail with a side of Hemlock, I would remind everyone that, I am in no way engaged in corrupting the youth of Athens or anywhere else. Though, I am not above corrupting an adult or two, but only with their full knowledge and consent. I’m funny that way. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.