Music and Cocktails: Speak to Me

Music and Cocktails: Speak to Me

To say that I spend time thinking about relationships between people is a true statement, wouldn’t you agree? So many of my posts are written about the subject of love, whether it’s romantic (that’s my favorite), or platonic, or what we feel for our children or our parents. Human interaction fascinates me, especially because the relationship that exists between any two people is something that has presence, weight, and importance, yet it has no real substance. It’s impossible to measure, evaluate, or analyze in any physical way. It can have incredible strength and withstand extreme trials, yet one wrong word or misunderstood gesture often reminds us of exactly how fragile relationships can be. Whenever we think in terms of fragility, the idea of protection follows, as it should. It is equally true that relationships are not static, but rather they are dynamic and alive, and require the same care that any other living thing would. In addition to protection, they need sustenance, they need nurturing, and they need love. Wait, love?? If we love the person with whom we’re in the relationship, then isn’t that the same thing? Not necessarily. Sometimes we have to consider what our relationship needs, as well as what our person needs, and that can get confusing.

In 1989, 10,000 Maniacs released a song called “Trouble Me” from the album Blind Man’s Zoo. It’s jaunty and upbeat, with Natalie Merchant’s insistent voice pulling us in and makes us want to pay closer attention to the lyrics. Isn’t that the case with so much of her music? In this particular song, there is a pattern of phrasing that opens each stanza that grabs our attention as well. “Trouble me / Speak to me / Let me / Spare me” are all opening lines, and the sense of repetition conveys urgency and makes us want to know more. “Trouble Me” also made it to the soundtrack of my life back in the 1990s, and once again my kids can attest to the number of times they heard it back then and still hear it now. I have always believed that it’s one of the greatest songs ever written about love and friendship, a very simple set of instructions for how to nurture what exists between us as human beings. It’s about openness and honesty, and being willing to trouble the other half of our equation with what is worrying us. How often do we stop ourselves from doing that because we fear that we’re being a burden? Although our intentions may be good, keeping things that trouble us from the person we love will only end up building walls between us, rather than around us. The only way to get to the kind of closeness that any relationship requires is through honesty, even at times when it’s not easy to reveal what we’re feeling. And that honesty has to be met with an attempt at understanding, even if what we’re hearing is unclear or difficult to accept at first. Sometimes we may think we love a person so much that we want to protect them from our secrets, but we have to love the relationship enough to know that it requires us to be open and vulnerable. It’s the only path to trust and true intimacy.

For today’s cocktail, I went heavy on the symbolism. I knew that I wanted the drink to have saké in it because it’s a delicate ingredient that needs a certain amount of care in order for its flavor to have presence. There’s the fragile aspect of our relationships. For my base spirit, I chose vodka for its ability to provide a backbone to cocktails while not changing the flavors of the other components. This reflects the strength of our relationships, and the need for support that is mutually beneficial. I added just a half dash of blue curaçao, mostly for its color which symbolizes trust, truth, and loyalty, and for its delicate flavor that can quickly become too much of we’re not careful. I added lemon juice and simple syrup for the sour and sweet elements of the drink, and two dashes of lavender lemon balm bitters to bring it all into balance. I chose these bitters because lavender soothes us, calms us, and allows us to rest, and because lemon balm is traditionally associated with love, friendship, and healing. It required some time and patience, but I eventually got this cocktail exactly where I wanted it to be. I allowed it to trouble me until it was perfect. The hydrangea in the photo symbolizes heartfelt emotions and the gratitude we feel when we are truly understood by another person. For me, that is the ultimate expression of love, but we’ll never have it if we don’t ask for it or we don’t allow it. Cheers everyone. Happy Wednesday.

Trouble Me

Trouble me, disturb me with all your cares and your worries.
Trouble me on the days when you feel spent.
Why let your shoulders bend underneath this burden when my back is sturdy and strong?
Trouble me.

Speak to me, don’t mislead me, the calm I feel means a storm is swelling;
There’s no telling where it starts or how it ends.
Speak to me, why are you building this thick brick wall to defend me when your silence is my greatest fear?
Why let your shoulders bend underneath this burden when my back is sturdy and strong?
Speak to me.

Let me have a look inside these eyes while I’m learning.
Please don’t hide them just because of tears.
Let me send you off to sleep with a “There, there, now stop your turning and tossing.”
Let me know where the hurt is and how to heal.

Spare me? Don’t spare me anything troubling.

Trouble me, disturb me with all your cares and your worries.
Speak to me and let our words build a shelter from the storm.
Lastly, let me know what I can mend.
There’s more, honestly, than my sweet friend, you can see.
Trust is what I’m offering if you trouble me.

Natalie Merchant and Dennis Drew, 1989

Speak to Me

1¾ oz Stateside vodka
1½ oz Tozai Snow Maiden saké
½ dash Giffard Blue Curaçao
½ oz lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
2 dashes DRAM lavender lemon balm bitters

Add all the ingredients to a shaker tin with ice and shake until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel. Enjoy!

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