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.
New Year’s resolutions seem to fall into three distinct categories. In the first, we identify something totally new that we’d like to add to our lives: “In 2023, I really want to learn how to listen to and understand opera.” Fantastico! We can easily find many resources that will help us quickly and successfully launch a pursuit such as this one. There is no real change we have to make or process we have to break down; we are simply expanding the musical part of our lives. In the second form of resolution making, we’re seeking to initiate an improvement of some kind: “I need to stop scrolling through social media before I go to bed at night because it’s making it impossible for me to fall asleep.” Indeed. I’ll bet there are lots of hands going up in agreement with that one. In this case, we are making the kind of definitive change that begins with evaluating both the physical steps that comprise our sleep schedule, and the emotional impetus behind desiring a virtual connection right before we close our eyes. That’s a lot to consider. The third and final resolution is the one where we take on our worst behavior or that terrible habit that has truly begun to haunt us: “I really think it’s time for me to quit smoking.” Yes. It absolutely is. 100%. Making good on this promise will bring about the greatest transformation, but it will also require that we delve even deeper into the emotions behind the habit, as well as demanding an incredible amount of determination and nerves of steel.
I am completely certain that the process of setting resolutions of any kind has to begin with the concept of deconstruction, which is defined as “taking apart, examining, and rendering something into its basic parts.” I talked about this idea back in November in a post called A Matter of Trust, in which I broke down and recreated the ubiquitous Jack Daniels and Coke. I related it to the concept of changing our daily routines in a way that would give us heightened awareness and a shift in perspective, while accepting that our emotions come from a place of intuition that will not respond to logical thinking or any attempt at reordering. It works that way with cocktails too. There are systematic steps that we have to follow, but flashes of brilliance will only come from trusting our deepest instincts. All of this talk about the deconstruction process prompted me to propose it as a theme for our January cocktail menu at Recklesstown, in which we would break apart six traditional or classic cocktails and reimagine them in new and different ways. I am so excited to tell you that this menu debuts tonight at the distillery, and it does include the aforementioned whiskey and coke.
Of the six new drinks that I developed, my favorite quickly became a reinvention of the Cosmopolitan, a cocktail that was originally created back in 1975, but that didn’t achieve star status until the late 90s when it became Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite drink on Sex and the City. For me, the Cosmo has always been a rather unbalanced drink, overly tart, and often served in a mammoth sized glass that allowed for a whopping amount of alcohol. It is very much like that bad habit we need to break in example #3 of our New Year’s resolutions listed above. If we take a moment to think about it, a good number of the bad behavior patterns that ensnare us come from places of imbalance, especially those where we attempt to fill emotional needs in ways that end up being even more draining. This thought led me to find the connection back to Sex and the City to be even more fitting, since we spent so many years identifying with each of the characters as they tried to coerce life into being what they wanted, making mistake after mistake, deconstructing, reimagining, and finally intuitively realizing that everything they had ever wanted was always right there within their grasp. They only needed to resolve that they would make it theirs.
For today’s cocktail, I reconstructed the Cosmopolitan in perfectly balanced fashion, with its signature pop of lime offset by a hibiscus tea simple that brings the same glamorous color as cranberry juice cocktail, but just the right amount of sweetness. To complement the hibiscus, I decided to use a lemongrass infused vodka as the base spirit, along with lemon balm bitters, both made in house, and both perfect flavor partners for the syrup. I kept the traditional curaçao, but used our version, which I had modeled after the less sweet, subtly spiced Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao. The end result is a truly beautiful cocktail, served on the rocks in a tall glass instead of its typical coupe. It is not overly alcoholic in any way, bright and refreshing like an easy summertime sipper, but with layers of nuance that provide so much more interest and depth of flavor. I think Carrie Bradshaw would be pleased. Our other deconstructed cocktails include an After Hours Negroni, a Paloma Piquanté, a January Julep, a PIña of Health, and a Bourbon and Coke Goes Fancy, of course. Come join us this month at the distillery to give them a try! Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
1.75 oz lemongrass infused vodka
.5 oz dry Curaçao (like Pierre Ferrand)
1.25 oz hibiscus tea simple
.75 oz lime juice
2 dashes lemon balm bitters
Short shake with ice.
Pour into a tall glass, no strain.
Garnish with a lemongrass stalk.