Cocktail Musings: Outer Limits

Cocktail Musings: Outer Limits

As this past week began for me, I found myself searching for those moments of inspiration I talked about in last week’s post. I was working on making some final tweaks to the cocktails intended for Recklesstown’s February menu, and two of them had me somewhat stumped. When divine intervention finally arrived, I did my best to muzzle my rational mind, but keeping it totally contained proved to be impossible. I directed that energy towards observing what it actually felt like to be accompanied by an abstract guide, rather than driven by a meticulous master. To put it another way, I gave my rational mind a pen and paper and said, “Here, take some notes.” I learned that I did not feel completely comfortable allowing abstraction to have a major part in setting a cocktail menu, especially since one of the most important forces behind drink creation for me has always been precision. As time goes on, however, I am realizing that it is more correct to say that a cocktail begins and ends with inspiration, but it is held together by a solid layer of exactness that rests squarely between the two. This past week’s exercise certainly reinforced this belief for me. Isn’t it interesting, though, how allowing abstraction in feels a bit like the way we surrender to water in order to be able to float, as opposed to the way we churn through it when we swim? Subtlety and nuance move to the forefront, and those tiny, often unnoticed shifts in the bedrock under our feet as we steamroll forward on all our missions suddenly feel a bit more seismic. To bring it back to the water analogy, we feel the slightest ripple when we float, but we miss it when we’re the one making all the waves.

There is a huge ripple occurring in the cosmos right now, and I found myself struggling to figure out how I wanted to present it in today’s post. In one of those synchronistic moments that I’ve grown accustomed to, a poem popped up on my Instagram feed called Small Kindnesses by Danusha Laméris, a contemporary poet from Northern California. More about that in just a bit. Some astrological events are dazzling, like a big full moon or a beautiful conjunction between two planets that we can actually see in the sky. The planetary shift that we need to consider at the moment has the potential to completely drop off our radar, especially since it involves Pluto, downgraded by astronomers to a dwarf planet in 2006 and kicked right out of our solar system. This makes him easy to forget. This is not the case for astrologers, however, who regard him as a major force to be reckoned with, demanding that we uncover and confront the secrets which lie deeply buried, both within ourselves and in the collective as a whole. Once the truth is revealed, there is almost always a power struggle that follows, and he’s in charge of that business too. Pluto moves out of Capricorn this week, a sign that speaks to us of foundations, structures, and systems, and enters Aquarius, where innovative thinking, challenges to the status quo, and humanitarianism take center stage. The change in energy is dynamic and extreme, but because it will be slow to take hold and build, this shift is filled with nuance, and if we want to consider it at all, we’ll need to sit quietly and allow ourselves to find its energy.

And where exactly should we be looking?? One thing is for certain, we can all agree that we are standing on the precipice of a major movement in the world of technology involving the powerhouse force known as Artificial Intelligence. All of the developments that have occurred in the last 20 odd years have moved us to a place that we could never have imagined. This is what truly great technological advancement does: it makes the impossible become real. We could never have imagined that we would hold a computer in our hands that is the size of a large deck of cards. We could never have thought that we’d sit in our living rooms in our pajamas and order whatever our hearts desired and have it delivered that afternoon or the next day. We could never have believed that we could talk to one another via text and say things that we didn’t have the courage to say in person. What a double edged sword that one is. And we could never have understood that a little thing thing called a “like” on social media would tell us how to feel about ourselves. We have learned the pitfalls of these types of technology, and many of us work very hard to grant them an appropriate place in our lives where we can monitor and minimize the damage they have the potential to cause. More than anything else, computers, and smartphones, and gaming systems have created worlds that extend beyond our physical realm, places inhabited by alter egos with no real way to express emotion or maintain connection that is truly human. While an appropriately timed text message that says, “Hey, I’m thinking of you” can be huge, there will always be times now where we find ourselves longing for the sound of one another’s voices. There is no greater threat to our humanity than the technology that is coming, the advancements that currently seem impossible, especially those that relate to Artificial Intelligence. If we ask ourselves then what is the meaning behind the planet of truth and power moving into the most humanitarian sign of the zodiac, the answer lies within question, doesn’t it? Perhaps the secret that gets revealed is that what we truly desire to advance is our humanity now, and the struggle we will be asked to engage in is the one that preserves the balance between the stroke of the key and the sound of the human voice.

Small Kindnesses

I’ve been thinking about the way,
when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in
their legs
to let you go by. Or how strangers still
say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,”
we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill
from your grocery bag, someone else
will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to
harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of
coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person
handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back.
For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down
the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick up
truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now.
So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief
moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of
the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together
when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead – you first,”
“I like your hat.”

Danusha Laméris

For today’s cocktail, I decided to reprise the original one that I made for the planet Pluto while I was working on my Celestial Cocktail Series back in 2017. A Negroni riff with a bit of egg-white shaken in, it was meant to represent the way in which Pluto is deep and dark, and it rules elements that can be bitter or challenging until we find a way to see them in a more positive light. I started out with Laphroaig as my base spirit because of its smoky, mysterious quality. From there I focused on achieving Pluto’s red and white coloring by using Lillet Rouge as my sweet ingredient and Cappelletti as my bitter. I topped it all off with Angostura bitters. The result was a drink whose ingredients worked surprisingly well together, but only if kept in perfect balance. The smokiness of the Scotch was the biggest presence, offset by the slight cherry sweetness of the Lillet and the similarly flavored bitterness of the Cappelletti. This was definitely a cocktail meant to be enjoyed slowly with lots of time for reflection in between sips. There is so much to consider, after all. Cheers everyone. Happy Sunday! Pluto moved into Aquarius late last night and will remain there for next 20 years.

Outer Limits

1 oz Laphroaig 10-year-old Scotch whisky
1 oz Lillet Rouge
1 oz Cappelletti Apertivo
1 oz egg white

Long shake without ice, then add ice and shake again.
Double strain into a cocktail glass.
Top with random streaks of Angostura bitters.


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