The sign of Cancer is the nurturer of the Zodiac, the perfect mother to us all, and the protector of all things related to hearth and home. Cancer runs from June 21st through July 22nd, and is symbolized by the mythological crab Karkinos, sent by the ever-meddlesome Hera to distract Hercules from his battle with the multi-headed Hydra. The story goes two ways after that. One version says that Hercules kicked Karkinos so hard that he propelled the crab up into the heavens, turning him into a constellation. The other goes with the theory that Hercules merely stomped on Karkinos, crushing him, and Hera then immortalized him to thank him for his service. Cancer’s element is water, which explains their tendency to be private and mysterious with unknown depths, and they are ruled by the Moon, which makes it very difficult to see them fully and clearly. Cancer is a sign that is full of contradictions. On the one hand, those born under it are tenacious, strong, and fiercely loyal, but they are also extremely sensitive, and prone to having their feelings hurt even by those they are closest to. They can be startlingly vulnerable and insecure even in the most long-term of relationships, and are not above pulling the occasional Meredith Grey on their partner asking him or her to please “choose me, pick me, love me,” even though he or she has already done that quite decisively. They are intuitive, imaginative, and incredibly observant, with an uncanny ability to read people and quickly learn their strengths and weaknesses. On the flip side of that, they themselves do not like to be read in the same way, and will often deflect probing conversation from others, except for those people they’ve allowed into their most intimate circle. They are emotional with a truly sympathetic ear, providing a tremendous sounding board for all the other signs of the zodiac. Cancers will hold on tightly to relationships, and invest a great deal of time and effort into learning what makes their partners or friends feel happy and loved. They can become a bit possessive, however, and if you cross them they are capable of striking back quite effectively, and can hold a grudge forever. The crab may skitter away sideways from most confrontations, but when he or she stays to fight, you have to be wary of that big claw that could come your way and pinch you when you least expect it. Cancers will light up a room when they are happy, coming our of their shells to shower their friends with attention and love, but if they feel threatened or rejected in any way, they may quickly retreat and take themselves back down into the depths of the ocean, leaving you to wonder what happened. The biggest irony here is that Cancers give the outward impression of having it all together, with no glimpses of the uncertainty that runs beneath the surface. It’s important to remember that they are complex and fragile creatures that often require a bit of emotional encouragement and careful handling to keep them on track. Cancers love gathering with their family and closest friends. They love their houses and homes and the lives that they’ve created. They love when everything is going along harmoniously, without conflict, and they love to feel needed. Their favorite thing in the world is a home-cooked meal. Cancer despises opposition, they do not like failure of any kind, and they aren’t fond of being given advice (good or bad). Above all else, they do not like to be told that they are sensitive or emotional. They know it, but they just don’t want you to remind them of it.
Cancer’s color is silver so I chose to serve their cocktail in this beautiful silver-rimmed coupe that I recently found in a thrift store for a ridiculously low price. I chose tequila as the drink’s base because it’s regarded as one of the more mysterious and complex spirits. To that I added Element Shrub’s Chai Pear, which is wonderfully tart, yet warm and spicy at the same time. I wanted this drink to have a bit of a bite to it (because Cancers keep us on our toes) and so that gave me an opportunity to try a new ginger liqueur that I recently received from Barrow’s in Brooklyn that’s just fantastic. For my sweet component, I used Liber & Co.’s gum syrup, to which I’d added a small amount of vanilla bean paste. A dash of DRAM’s black bitters intensified the warmth and spiciness of the shrub and the liqueur. The mezcal float serves to remind us that Cancers are very changeable with many layers, that often evolve right before our eyes, in much the same way as this cocktail does from first sip to last.
2 oz Gran Centenario Tequila Blanco
½ oz Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur
1 oz Element Shrub Chai Pear
½ oz Liber & Co. gum syrup infused with ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
¼ oz Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal
Place all the ingredients except the mezcal in the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake for 15-20 seconds or until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the mezcal on top by pouring it over the back of a barspoon. Garnish with a pear slice shaped into a crescent moon. Cheers to Cancer!
Image from www.crystallinks.com