One of the saddest, most beautiful songs I know was written by Warren Zevon just before he died in September of 2003. It’s the last track on his final album, The Wind, and it’s clear that Zevon intended it to be a goodbye song. He knew he was dying. In fact, he was so ill at the time he recorded it, that he had to have a temporary studio created at his home in order to do so. The song is called Keep Me in Your Heart and I have it on a playlist that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. The lyrics for this song are all beautiful, but there are 2 lines that move me beyond the poignancy of the circumstances, and make me consider bigger things about life. The first is “There’s a train leavin’ nightly called When All is Said and Done.” I love this expression and I know that I use it often when I speak, and when I write. To me it lends weight to what I’m about to say, as if what’s coming next is the most important part, so you’d better listen up. Idiom and phrase dictionaries offer another definition that involves considering the whole of the situation, not just one aspect of it. The idea that there’s a train leaving nightly makes me think that we’re given a chance to look back on each day and think about what it meant to us, to examine the gravity of it, and to fit it into the whole, like a piece in a puzzle. If we do this, then it forces us to live a little bit more in the present, because no day should be lost; they are all important, they all have meaning, they all carry weight. We just need to have our eyes open enough to be able to see why.
The second line that I think is so meaningful is “You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse.” We’re all individuals alone inside our heads, but what would life be like without the connections we form with other people? Isn’t it these bonds that make us truly human in the way they nurture us, enrich us, or even in the way they challenge us? Buttons are fragile things, much like our connections, and they can become loose if you pull on them too much, or fall off altogether, needing to be tightened or reattached. Sometimes when they are reattached the thread might not match perfectly, or they may be a bit out of line, but at least you’ll still have them. The worst is losing a button altogether; you might try to replace it, but in some cases that’s just not possible and you’re left with that gaping spot to remind you of where it used to be.
For today’s cocktail, I used the most eye-opening of all the spirits, tequila, as my base. From there I went with a triple ginger threat because it symbolizes healing, energy, and vitality, using it first as a muddling ingredient, and then adding it to the drink in the form of a ginger liqueur and a ginger shrub. The blueberry rosemary shrub balances the bite of the ginger, and the rosemary simple syrup brings sweetness to counter the sour ingredients. I love the symbolism here too because rosemary is so closely linked to remembrance, especially of people that we’ve lost. Finally, the bitters bind all the other ingredients together with flavors that echo the spice of the ginger, the sweetness of the blueberry, and the earthiness of the tequila. Each day brings all those things and we are constantly striving for balance. I floated the mezcal on top, because sometimes we have to push through something deep and smokey before we can really see what’s right in front of us.
Today is Inauguration Day, and it’s a tough one for many of us. It’s more important than ever that we remember how bound together we all are, and how essential it is to continue to form and strengthen those attachments that make us human. So it’s the combination of the 2 lines in this song that I think really hits home. Who are you tied to like the buttons on a blouse and, when all is said and done, do they know how much they mean to you? Would you risk losing them without them knowing?
The Buttons on Your Blouse
2 oz Gran Centenario tequila blanco
½ oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
1 oz Tait Farm’s ginger shrub
1 oz Element blueberry rosemary shrub
¼ oz rosemary simple syrup*
2 dashs DRAM Apothecary black bitters
¼ oz Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal
3 thin slices of ginger for muddling
5 blueberries threaded onto a cocktail pick for garnishing
Muddle the ginger with the simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker tin. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the mezcal and the garnish) and then fill 2/3 full with ice. Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds or until very cold. Double strain into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Pour the mezcal on top but don’t stir! Garnish with the blueberries. Think back on your day. Appreciate those you love. Hold them close.
*Dissolve equal parts sugar in boiling water and stir until clear. Add 1 rosemary sprig per cup of syrup and pour into a Mason jar. Seal and then remove the rosemary sprig after the syrup cools. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone. See you all on Monday!