Last November I wrote a post just after the election that was about the modern (now classic) cocktail called the Penicillin. It was created by Sam Ross, an early pioneer of the Cocktail Movement, who spent 7 years as head bartender at Milk & Honey in NYC, and currently is the co-owner of Attaboy, also in NYC and now Brooklyn. The Penicillin is one of my favorite cocktails. I know, I know. You’re all saying to yourselves right now that I have a lot of favorite cocktails, and that is quite true, but as a person who writes about them everyday, I think that’s to be expected! I had my first Penicillin not all that long ago at one of my favorite spots, Charlie was a sinner in Philadelphia, when the nothing-short-of-fabulous J. Christine Lamb was still beverage manager. She’s currently at Philadelphia Distilling in Fishtown working her magic there. If you haven’t visited yet, go as fast as your feet will take you. It’s a fantastic place. That first Penicillin came my way quite accidentally; it was already made, didn’t seem to belong to anyone else, and needed a good home which I was happy to provide. Maybe it was the company, or the circumstances of that particular night, but I fell quickly in love and have been smitten ever since.
The post that I wrote back then was titled “The Penicillin: A Cure for Whatever Ails You,” and it got me to musing about the idea and the process of healing. Think about it for a moment. When you have the slightest little sickness or injury, isn’t it the greatest feeling just to know you’re on the upswing, you’re getting better, and you’ll soon be back to normal? Or, even on a daily basis, our bodies are assaulted by any number of things, but then we get a decent night’s rest and we wake up feeling brand new. Bigger illnesses and injuries take longer, of course, but we still look for those first signs of forward progress and they bring great comfort when we finally see them.
All of this is a bit easier to see when we’re talking about physical healing, but what about when we’ve suffered an emotional injury of sorts, or just when we’re feeling sad or not quite right about things. The same process needs to take place, but we don’t always look at it that way. I’ve often wished that there was an emotional CT scan machine that we could use to tell us just how hurt our feelings really are. Maybe if there was a physical assessment that we could actually read, we’d know how much healing needs to take place and begin to move in that direction. There’s not, of course, and so we’re forced to self-assess, or maybe check in with someone we’re close to, or even seek more professional help when we know we can’t get there alone. But in addition to the major incidents that happen, our souls come under the same kind of emotional assault everyday as our bodies do. We see things that upset us, or we hear things, or we worry about situations in our lives that are hard to control, or we spend a good part of our day caring for everyone else. By the time we finally lay our heads on our pillows at night, we often feel drained. A good night’s sleep will help, but not fully heal, and so we can begin to feel a bit more depleted with each day.
So what’s the answer, or in this case, what’s the cure for our emotional hurts? Is it cocktails? Some people certainly think that. I think the answer differs for each of us, but the most important step is actually recognizing that there’s healing that needs to take place everyday, and that that process needs to be made more a priority for many of us. So how do you heal? What makes you feel better emotionally each day? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, or worse still if you weren’t even aware that they were valid questions, then I would gently suggest that you need to give them some thought. There are lots of ways to get there, lots of practices you could take up like yoga, or meditation, or exercise in general. Or there are even simpler things like writing in a journal, saying some prayers or affirmations, or just living more mindfully everyday trying to raise your awareness of who and what you love best in the world. Last week’s Friday Musings post was all about that. No matter which way you choose to get there, it’s something that you need to prioritize and do right away. If you don’t, then the emotional depletion that occurs on a daily basis will drain you little by little until it suddenly becomes something that feels insurmountable. So do it. Take a few moments to focus on yourself and think about your answer to this very important question: What heals you?
Today’s cocktail is a simple riff on the Penicillin in which I’ve kept the blended Scotch base and the single-malt, smoky Scotch float, but I’ve substituted carrot and orange juices for the lemon, ginger syrup for the honey, and added just a bit of orange liqueur. It’s a variation that I’d been wanting to try for quite a while now, and when the end result tasted like some kind of a drink you’d get at a health spa, it truly made me smile. Making cocktails everyday heals me, but it has nothing to do with the alcohol in them. I seldom get to do more than taste them before they go through the rigors of having their picture taken under the gaze of my hypercritical Virgo eyes. It’s the creative process and sharing them with all of you. That’s what heals me.
Add all the ingredients except the Laphroaig to the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake 20 seconds or until very cold. Strain into a chilled old-fashioned glass over 1 large cube. Pour the Laphroaig on top of the drink allowing it to run over the back of a bar spoon. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger. Enjoy!