In June of last year my daughter and I went to Paris. It was, without a doubt, the trip of a lifetime. It was something that she’d always wanted to do, and to my great fortune, she asked me to go with her. We were there for 10 days, during which time we followed no one’s itinerary but our own. We ate in fabulous restaurants, we had coffee in famous cafés, we visited museums and churches, we learned the metro system, we spoke French, we shopped, we sampled many macarons, and we wandered the streets to our hearts’ content. It was wonderful. Many people have asked me what the highlight of the trip was for me and the answer is always easy. It was Tapestry #6.
At some point when I was in high school I fell in love with a series of medieval tapestries called The Lady and the Unicorn. I don’t know why they fascinated me so much; I was simply drawn to them for reasons I couldn’t explain. I sought out as much information about them as I could, and I learned that they’d been woven in Flanders in 1511 out of wool and silk. They were 12 feet high, and they each contained an image of the lady with a lion and a unicorn on either side of her, along with other small woodland creatures. Numbers 1 through 5 represented the 5 senses, but number 6, entitled A Mon Seul Desir, or To My Only Desire, had always been somewhat of a mystery. There were numerous scholarly articles written about the meaning behind this particular tapestry and I devoured as many of them as I could, eventually coming to my own conclusion.
Because the woman in Tapestry #6 has removed the necklace she wears in 1 through 5 and is placing it in the box, I believe that she is freeing herself from the information coming in from her 5 senses, and is turning inward to intuitively examine what lies deep within her. What is her one desire? Only she knows the answer because only she can fully know what’s in her heart. As women, we are often held in place by the various roles we take on throughout the course of our lives. We are daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, and friends, all at the same time, and all in addition to whatever vocation we’ve chosen for ourselves. We manage these roles effortlessly and seamlessly, and people know us based on which role we play for them. Somewhere deep within our hearts, however, we all have that one desire, that one thing that we would be or we would want if we weren’t constrained by any roles. Even if we never tell it to another living soul, we need to know it for ourselves, because within it is the very essence of who we are as women.
The reason why Tapestry #6 was the highlight of my trip to Paris is because as we wandered through the rooms of the Cluny Museum one morning, I suddenly found myself standing in front of these tapestries that I had always loved so much. I’d had no idea that the Cluny held them and so it was completely unexpected. The experience was so profound that it overwhelmed me and I had to sit down. It’s a moment that I’ll never forget. To relate all of this to today’s cocktail, I decided to do a riff on one of the quintessential “ladies drinks” from the 50s and early 60s: the Screwdriver. I kept the vodka but swapped out regular orange juice for blood orange juice because its flavor brings a different intensity to the drink. I also added Giffard ginger liqueur and Element Shrub pineapple turmeric because women aren’t just sweet and one-dimensional, despite what the Madmen era may have tried to make us believe. We have always been complex and profound, with so much more going on beneath the surface than what the outward definition of ourselves may show. To all my fellow sisters out there: I know what’s in my heart. Do you know what’s in yours??
Combine all the ingredients in the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake for about 20 seconds until cold. Double strain into a Collins glass over ice and garnish with a blood orange slice. Enjoy!