We are often told that the secret to living a happy life is all about finding balance. I am in complete agreement with this statement, and it resonates with me on a daily basis because balance is also one of the key components in creating a perfect cocktail. I have talked about this idea many, many times. The sweetness of a drink should temper the acidity. The base spirit should never overwhelm the intended flavor profile. When a cocktail seems like it’s missing something, bitters will often be the thing that brings harmony. I have made all of these statements with great conviction because I can see them clearly. I know that they are factual and true, and I test their validity every time I make a new drink. They’ve become a set of guidelines for me, or a checklist that I can follow and expect that the outcome will be a reasonably good cocktail. If we seek this same idea of balance in life, what are the components we should be precisely measuring? There are so many answers to that question, some of which are good and solid, and others that run the risk of being cliché. It may take some careful consideration to distinguish between the two.
As a person who creates and prepares cocktails both for a living and for fun, I am extremely interested in the idea of compatibility. I often consult a rather large book I have called The Flavor Bible for insight and inspiration when it comes to combining ingredients. It’s actually meant to be used in cooking, but I find that it helps me a great deal in my efforts to learn what goes with what. In last week’s Rogue Cosmo, for example, I leaned towards using a vodka infused with lemongrass because it’s a capitalized entry in the list under the Hibiscus heading in my book, which means that these two ingredients are thought to be perfect dance partners. They have the ability to move with one another gracefully and with the utmost of ease, but they also challenge one another to rise up and be more. Many other ingredients are listed, but not capitalized, and so we expect that while they might still work, they won’t necessarily be quite as compatible. We’ve all danced with someone exactly like that! This concept of finding a perfect match in the cocktail world reminds me of a Netflix show I watched last year called The One that was all about finding the person in the real world who would become exactly what the show’s title implies. In the series, there was a scientific process behind compatibility, rather than chance, fate, or dating apps, that had to do with a genetic component shared with just one other person in the entire universe, rendering them completely irresistible. All that was needed was a single strand of hair for analysis. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a binge watch. But, I digress.
I’m going to begin today’s post by posing a question in my best Carrie Bradshaw voice: “What is it about New Year’s Eve that tugs so firmly on our heartstrings?” There’s always that instant just before midnight when a sort of flashback reel runs in our minds that conjures up significant moments from all the December 31sts that have long passed. Dances, kisses, hugs, conversations, glances… split seconds brimming with potential and promise, or if we were having one of those harder years that we’ve all unfortunately experienced, poignancy and longing were what filled the cup. This unsolicited recap rolls these memories in front of our mind’s eye, and they most certainly do lasso our hearts in the most forceful way possible. As if all of this is not enough, there is the even more prevalent thought that the new year offers us the option of setting a purposeful intention, or several, that can and will revise the 365 days ahead. When we embrace this idea of setting such resolutions, we cannot help but find ourselves sitting on the edge of transformation every New Year’s Eve, and that particular place of looking over the railing into the abyss of what might come next will always stir up our emotions. And so we write that promissory note, not necessarily for money, but for new behavior and habits, an organized plan of action that will reveal a shining and updated version of ourselves.
This Christmas, I received what I think is going to be the most amazing bottle of beer ever from my son Connor’s equally amazing girlfriend, Morgan. Technically speaking, Dialogues, made by The Referend Bier Blendery in Kutztown, PA, is a spontaneously fermented ale that has been aged in oak barrels along with various grapes, juice, and pomace. Wow, right?? That’s what I think too. To make matters even more interesting, there is a Pablo Neruda quote on the back of the bottle that is part of a poem called “Ode to the Dictionary:”
…words as slippery as smooth grapes, words exploding in the light like dormant seeds waiting in the vaults of vocabulary, alive again, and giving life: once again the heart distills them.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the winter solstice is defined as either of the two annual moments when the path of the sun is farthest south in the Northern hemisphere on December 21st or 22nd and farthest north in the Southern hemisphere on June 20th or 21st. Because the solstice is the shortest day of the year, we tend to associate it with the immense dark and intense quiet that winter brings when, in truth, what this moment actually represents is the return of the light. In terms of astrology, the solstice is marked by the ingress of the sun into Capricorn, one of the zodiac’s four cardinal signs that signals, by definition, that it is time to begin anew. This year’s solstice officially occurred on Wednesday, December 21st at 4:48 in the afternoon, but please don’t be alarmed if you missed it. Solstice energy lingers, and this particular one is followed by today’s new moon in Capricorn, which represents the perfect time for setting new intentions. The solstice is the standing still of the sun in its most far away place and, as such, it invites us to also find a point of stillness and reflection within ourselves. As we pause, we turn to look behind us and gather the lessons brought to us by the past year, finding wisdom as we rest in this moment of consideration, before we turn our eyes towards the future and the hopes and fears that it inevitably brings. What have we learned? What can we release? What will we dare to encounter or dream?