Back in October I wrote a Friday Musings post about a drink from Death & Co. called Terrible Love. I questioned what the phrase really meant and asked you all to think about who your terrible love might be. I speculated that it might be a love that was bad for us, or one that could simply never be because of circumstances, or one that left us heartbroken. In the worst case scenario, it could be all three. I called that one the Trifecta of Terrible Love. Lately I’ve been reflecting on the idea again, particularly about the process we go through in trying to move on from this especially painful kind of love. For the most part, the advice we’re given by friends, family, even professionals, revolves around the notion of having to let it go. Walk away, we’re told, or run, get over it, excise it from your life, bury it in the ground and stamp on it with two feet… all deliberate, possibly even aggressive, actions on our part aimed at expunging that love from our lives. And then we can return to normal, like it never happened, and be ready for the next love. But is that really true? It can take forever, right, and it can be painful and horrible, and we rail against it with everything we have. Yet somehow this forceful excision process is supposed to leave us more whole and more at peace. Yeah right.
The problem that I’ve come to see with all of this is that the love that we felt was ours, it was something that belonged to us, and it was good, and pure, and fully deserving of our energy. The person, or the situation, on the other hand, may very well not have been. So the tricky part involves separating the love we felt from the actual person we felt it for; otherwise we run the risk of doing real damage to our own hearts. Do I see raised eyebrows? I think I do. Hear me out for a second. While we certainly can’t go on breathing life into a love that will most likely never be, we don’t have to necessarily bury it in the earth in the hopes of obliterating it. What if we used different imagery that allowed it to be contained, dormant even, but still visible? If not, how can we ever hope to learn from it, or have it be the bridge that connects us to and makes us ready for the next love that comes along? And if we forcibly excise a part of ourselves, then aren’t we less and not more? What if it happens more than once? Do we keep excising until there’s nothing left? I say no to all those things. I say that we take that love and put it in a place where we can continue to see it. We’re careful not to nurture it, or feed it, we simply allow it stay with us. We let it illuminate us so that we can recognize and accept the things that were wrong with the person we loved or the situation we found ourselves in. We allow it to be the thing that helps us to find the next love, the true love, the one who is so deserving of everything we have to offer. And we arrive there more complete, more at peace, having been gentle with our hearts, rather than violent.
For today’s cocktail, I decided to use Petty’s Island Rum from Cooper River Distillers right here in New Jersey, because it has a somewhat unexpected taste, with just a bit of something like tequila’s funkiness. I thought it was appropriate since I’m suggesting a somewhat unexpected idea today. To go along with the rum, I chose 2 of my favorite ingredients: Suze and Yellow Chartreuse, both of which have the ability to brighten and illuminate anything they come in contact with. For my bitters I went with DRAM Citrus Medica to lift the cocktail with orange, lemon and grapefruit flavors, along with just a hint of spice that brings us back to the Suze and Chartreuse. The end result is a boozy drink that should be served very cold in your smallest cocktail glass. Don’t drink it too quickly, but rather take some time to reflect on that terrible love. Remember that it belonged to you and it’s okay to treat it like it was one of your most prized possessions. Allow it to open your heart, rather than to close it. Trust in the fact that it’ll remain bright only for as long as is necessary for you to see what’s next, and when you’re ready it will dim all on its own, with no forcible action required from you.
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and add ice. Stir 30-45 seconds with a long-handled bar spoon or until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon wheel skewered on a cocktail pick. Enjoy!
*You can substitute tequila, Rujero Singani, or even pisco here. You just want something that has a little bit of funkiness to it. If you don’t love that taste, then by all means use your favorite white rum.
**If you don’t have the DRAM bitters, you can substitute orange bitters instead.