Obligation is a funny thing. It is simply defined as “a course of action a person is bound to do, arising out of a sense of duty or customs or law.” They go on and on describing edge cases, but it really does come down to “a responsibility that you assume” for whatever reason. I think that is the key part, the free will portion, which is funny because obligations are constraints, they limit freedom, by their nature. It is at precisely that moment when you make that choice to accept responsibility, a choice that will keep you from being able to make some other choices, that obligation begins. That has been on my mind a lot lately, those chains we bind ourselves with. Those ties to the place, family, groups, and the tasks that define us. Ultimately, these choices say a lot about who we are, who we can be and how we will get there, if we honor them. So, in the spirit of choices made, deadlines and commitments, won’t you join me now as we stand and make The Crushed Nun.
This drink is a champagne cocktail of sorts, in the vein of the French 75 but with a medicinal lean, like we found in the Negative Space or the Death in the Afternoon. It was created by Ehren Ashkenazi of The Modern in New York’s Museum of Modern Art in partnership with avant-garde filmmakers “The Quay Brothers” to pair with their exhibit “On Deciphering the Pharmacists’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets”. They leaned into the artist’s personal preferences for sparkling wine from Northern Italy and used that as a base for a drink with a medicinal twist. I actually discovered this one in the amazing P22 Cocktail Chapbook. Yes, it is a font sample book, and it is filled with wonderful design and even better recipes. This one intrigued me when I saw the name, which actually comes from a Jean-Jacques Lequeu painting “And We Shall Be Mothers Because…!” that features a nun, ripping away her habit to expose her breasts. I am sure there is some symbolism going on here as we see this nun tearing away the symbols of her obligation, but let’s not go too deep before we make the drink.
This is a built drink, so we are going to need a champagne flute, but before we begin construction we will need to gather some supplies, so let’s make some Strega infused blueberry syrup. In a saucepan, combine 1/2 a cup each of water, sugar and fresh blueberries. Bring this to a simmer, stirring occasionally till the blueberries begin to “‘pop” and shed their skins. Strain into another container and add 1/4 cup of Strega, that wonderfully witchy herbal Italian amaro full of saffron, juniper and mint among 70 or so other flavors. When mixed, bottle it up and store in the fridge for a couple of weeks, though I’d rather use it all quickly. It is wonderful and has the most amazing purple hue.
Now that you have done the prep work, tune up Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” and grab that flute to give it a nice absinthe rinse, I used St. George Absinthe Verte. After you have coated the glass and disposed of the absinthe in the best way for you, add 1 ounce of our Strega infused blueberry syrup, topped with 5 ounces of sparkling rosÃ© and two drops of 18-21 Prohibition Aromatic Bitters. Stir gently, garnish with some fresh blueberries on a pick and serve.
After trying the blueberry syrup on its own, I wasn’t sure if anything besides a pancake could make it any better. I was wrong. That sparkling wine opens this flavor up into something divine. Lovely herbal notes from the Strega, saffron and mint pulling through nicely as the bubbles float us into a medical finish from that absinthe rinse. This one tells a story and leaves you wanting more. I like a drink that takes you on a journey and this one absolutely fits that bill.
I like journeys as well. The more I think about it, the more I realize that most of life’s most important ones are full of obligation. The trips we take for work or to see family are the obvious ones, but there are so many others. That walk down the aisle together to make a commitment that begins a new journey together. Traveling across the country to help a friend in need or to simply celebrate the joy of being together. Some are short, some are long, but they help make us who we are. Some of the longest trips I have ever taken were just a handful of steps, helping to carry friends those last few feet on their final trip. Like the song says, “deadlines and commitments” those obligations we choose for ourselves say a lot about who we are. The love we show through promises kept, speak volumes. So, be mindful with the obligations you choose to accept and honor, they may not seem like much at the time, but they will decide who you will be and that’s worth studying over. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.