Cocktail Musings: A Scathingly Brilliant Idea

Cocktail Musings: A Scathingly Brilliant Idea

My oldest granddaughter Nora has no shortage of confidence. She will often say things to me like “Freezie, I am magnificent at art.” Or “Freezie, you know that all my ideas are really, really great.” That last one, in particular, always gets me. I think of my reactions to my own ideas, and the fact that I usually have to consider them ten ways to Sunday before I decide that they’re even marginally good, let alone really great. I’ve only ever seen her confidence falter once when she brought sleeping bags over for a slumber party we were having, but then decided that my bed was cozier. “I guess that wasn’t one of my best ideas,” she said in a way that broke my heart, and I replied that not only was it a really, really great idea, it was a scathingly brilliant idea! If you’ve ever seen the movie The Trouble With Angels from way back in 1966 starring Rosalind Russell as the Mother Superior and Hayley Mills as the less than cooperative student, you’ll recognize the line. If you haven’t seen it and attended Catholic school as a child, then you need to watch it as soon as possible. So many things will resonate! Since the sleeping bag incident, I’ve told Nora at least three times a week that her ideas are scathingly brilliant, and she wholeheartedly agrees with me every time. It has led me to wonder at what point along the way do we lose the ability to maintain that level of nearly unfaltering confidence?

In a post called Journal Prompt from last year, I wrote that most children (unless neglected or abused) begin life with the amazing viewpoint that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They move through their early days unaware of boundaries and limits, and while such freedom is blissful for them, it provides a number of heart-stopping moments for parents and caregivers alike where we find ourselves asking, “What on earth made you think you could do such a thing as that??” Their answer is “I can do anything,” which translates, quite literally, into “my profound sense of complete and utter confidence!” Of course. Eventually, we see this self-assuredness begin to wane, partly because children realize that certain things truly are either physically impossible or downright dangerous, and partly because there are an increasing number of moments when something or someone makes them consider the fact that they just might not be the greatest thing since sliced bread. The first reason has us breathing a sigh of relief, while the second one makes us shed some tears as we do our best to remediate it. The truth of the matter is, however, that this shift is a rite of passage that we all experienced at one point in our early lives. We have to become cognizant of boundaries and limits, and we have to develop an understanding of them; otherwise, we’d never learn which ones are non-negotiable and which ones just might yield if we push hard enough against them.

I’d like to think that it is within this place of yielding that we regain some of the unshakeable confidence we knew as children. We just approach the entire process differently as adults. If we consider the idea of learning a new skill, or starting a new project, or even making a major life change, most of us don’t dive in head first like we would have when we were five years old. There are certain steps that we follow. First and foremost, we do our research. We ask questions, we read books, we determine the feasibility of what it is that we want to do, and then we say it out loud, but only to ourselves at first. “I want to learn how to design rollercoasters.” Well now, that’s a big one. We’re probably going to need specialized classes, and lots of onsite experience, and a very thorough understanding of physics kinds of things like gravity, acceleration, and friction. We realize that we need to develop a plan, and that becomes our second step, along with telling our family and friends. “I’m going to MIT to study mechanical engineering.” When everyone applauds our intelligence, dedication, and ambition, we find ourselves to be absolutely beaming. We are beginning to develop confidence. And when we finish our schooling, and do our training, and are finally given the opportunity to design a roller coaster of our own, and people actually ride it and scream their heads off because it is so scary, and fun, and fast, we notice a certain feeling come over us that we know at a deep intuitive level. We have once again become the greatest thing since sliced bread. As adults, confidence comes more from mastery and tangible results, but in order to achieve either one of them, we have to find the five-year-old that still exists somewhere within us, ready to push against the limits with scathingly brilliant ideas that remind us that we can do just about anything.

For today’s cocktail, I knew that I wanted it to be a take on the classic drink called The Aviation. Although its origins are not crystal clear, most cocktail historians agree that it was created to celebrate the milestone of successfully getting a plane to take off, fly, and land back down on the ground again, another major feat of engineering! I used Stockholms Bränneri pink gin as my base because I knew that it had a very strong floral signature. I kept the Crème de Violette and the lemon juice, but I substituted a hibiscus tea simple for the Maraschino liqueur, which gave the cocktail just the tiniest bit more sweetness and lift. It also changed its color from the traditional deep purple to a softer violet, which just happens to be one of Nora’s favorite colors. In terms of symbolism, hibiscus flowers are often associated with good fortune and positivity, violets represent the innocence of children, and the basil leaf garnish connects us to our heart chakra where we find our greatest courage and strength. Cheers everyone. Happy Saturday! Have a wonderful weekend filled with endless possibilities.

A Scathingly Brilliant Idea

2 oz Stockholms Bränneri pink gin
.5 oz Giffard Crème de Violette
.5 oz lemon juice
.25 oz hibiscus tea simple syrup

Long shake over ice.
Double strain into a Nick & Nora glass.
Garnish with a bruised basil leaf.


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