Cocktail Musings: Truth Be Told

Cocktail Musings: Truth Be Told

This past Christmas, I bought my granddaughter Phoebe a book called In My Heart, by Jo Witek. It helps children (and adults) understand all the feelings, big and small, loud and quiet, quick and slow, that we might have on any given day. If you have little ones in your life, and you’re looking for a truly great book to buy that encourages a back and forth dialogue, this is most definitely the one. By identifying just about every possible emotion, Witek tells us that they each have their place, and that it’s okay to give voice to them all. I originally bought the book for Nora, granddaughter number one, back in the day, and I’ve read it many, many times over the past six years. It never fails to move me. Happiness is like a big, yellow star, shiny and bright. Sadness is as heavy as an elephant, a dark cloud raining down tears. When we are afraid, our heart beats fast, and a chilly breeze climbs up the back of our necks. Nora has always loved the shyness page, where we take hold of our hearts and watch the world from a safe place that no one else can see. I think that might be my favorite too. The book ends with the question, “How does your heart feel?” Jack and Nora answer right away, providing all kinds of details as to why, Nellie is going in that same direction, and I know Phoebe won’t be far behind them. I love listening to them articulate the truth behind how their hearts feel, mostly because their willingness to be honest and open, without any hidden agenda, makes it all seem so incredibly easy. I often find myself wishing that many adults I know, myself included, could find that same level of comfort with saying what needs to be said in a way that is nothing but sincere and genuine.

Very few of us would argue that this kind of openness and honesty are the building blocks of human relationships. Being truthful with one another creates a foundational level of trust that allows us to break down the barriers that stand in the way of both platonic and romantic intimacy. When we lie, we say that we’re okay with constructing an alternate world that is a misrepresentation of the facts as we know them to be. Compounding matters even further, we then invite others into this unreal place knowing that we’ve fabricated its very existence. Sometimes we end up believing that our story could have been true, and that it might be best to actually believe that it was in order to make the lie more convincing. It is a situation that we cannot possibly feel good about, no matter how much we may try, and because of this, we often become angry or defensive when the lie is challenged, as if it really were true. Walls go up everywhere, with no way in or out. If we are the person being lied to, and it’s unexpected, we may suddenly feel as if the foundation of the relationship has shifted beneath us, and we may be uncertain as to how to accommodate that change. If we live in an endless environment of dishonesty, we may have grown accustomed to the constant shifting and have devised our own methods of coping with it, one of which, surprisingly enough, is to cover up the fact that the lies are even happening. There is a third scenario that is potentially the most dangerous one, and it involves lying to ourselves. Sometimes people remain in our lives despite the fact that they aren’t always honest with us, until we find a healthy way of detaching from them entirely, or at a bare minimum, we relocate them out of our innermost circle. If we attempt this same scenario, however, when it comes to dealing with our own truth, we may find ourselves in a dangerously disconnected place.

This upcoming week’s astrological energy finds the planet Mercury, who helps us to understand communication in all its forms, stepping across that same Aquarius threshold that we discussed last week and cozying right up to Pluto. It’s as if the two have invited one another out for a drink with the intention of discussing deep, dark secrets. For me, Mercury has always been a cross between Clinton Kelly from What Not to Wear and Jude Law. It’s relatively easy to see either one of them rocking a pair of winged sandals, am I right? Pluto has always been a more difficult read for me, but I have comfortably landed on Cillian Murphy, the Irish actor who most recently played the title role in Oppenheimer, and who is also known for Peaky Blinders and The Dark Knight Rises. If we picture them sitting side by side in a dark bar late at night, both dressed to the nines with their heads leaning towards one another, what might they be saying? And more importantly, why does it matter to us? Pluto demands uncompromising truth and believes it to be transformative when spoken out loud. Mercury is always willing to talk, but can have less of a need for honesty. When the two meet up like this, Mercury lets go of his trickster, jokester tendencies and invites us to get down to the serious business of articulating the truths we may be holding deep inside. What is it that we sincerely need to say, either to ourselves or to another person, or even to the world? And on the flip side, what is it that we genuinely need to hear? This might be the perfect week for us to consider both these questions. When secrets are finally uncovered, whether they are someone else’s or our own, their revelation can prove to be equally monumental and transformative. Despite the fact that the process of speaking and listening to the truth is a mental one, it is ultimately our hearts that hold the key to honesty. When we tell our secrets as children, we do so from a place that is raw, emotional, and unfiltered, without very much thought given to the idea of being ridiculed, misunderstood, or ostracized. Those fears come for us later, as we approach adulthood, and once they’ve established a place in our psyches, they can be difficult to dislodge. Maybe it all comes down to asking what our own hearts are feeling each day, and to being willing to ask that same question of those we love, as we stand unequivocally prepared to listen patiently and without judgement to both answers.

For today’s cocktail, I immediately went in the direction of creating a riff on the classic drink called the Last Word. For some reason, it has always made me think of two people having a late night conversation, much like our planetary friends we discussed earlier. Rather than using gin as the base spirit of this cocktail, I switched over to a rye whiskey that has been aged in vermouth casks instead. I wanted a deeper, richer flavor that could capture the essence of the idea of truth. Because I like Yellow Chartreuse with darker spirits, I used it instead of the Green, and then did a similar thing with switching lemon juice for lime. I wanted to keep the herbal streak that the original cocktail is known for, and so I replaced the maraschino liqueur with Dolin Genepy, a spirit that features Alpine herbs like rosemary and lavender, both of which are associated with the concept of trust. Where the traditional Last Word is thought to be a palate cleanser with its bright, clean notes, this cocktail is one that lingers and gives us plenty of time to drink it and consider the ideas this post has posed. Cheers everyone. Happy Sunday! Thank you for always listening to my truth.

Truth Be Told

1 oz Kinsey Vermouth Cask Rye Whiskey
1 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz Dolin Genepy

Long shake over ice.
Double strain into a cocktail coupe.
Garnish with a small rosemary sprig.


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