Friday Musings: Pessimist or Optimist?

Friday Musings: Pessimist or Optimist?

This is one of those Friday Musings posts where the drink comes before the actual idea of what I’m writing about and I have to figure out how to tie the two together. Today’s cocktail was created by James Yoakum, the chief distiller and owner of Cooper River Distillers in Camden NJ, for a collaborative event with Philadelphia’s Bearings Coffee that’s occurring at the distillery today, complete with live music and a food truck. The drink is a smooth blend of their Copper & Vine brandy, distilled completely from New Jersey grapes, and Bearings Coffee (blended exclusively for cocktail making), orange bitters, and orange juice. The flavors intermingle perfectly, with the coffee tapping into the rich flavors of the brandy, and the orange juice drawing out its fruitiness. The bitters help to tie both sides together. This cocktail is appropriately named The Marlon Brando, which I love, because it speaks to the actor’s smoothness and to his edge. And, remembering how the godfather met his demise in the film, the oranges are perfect.

So the question is how do I work this into a blog post? Well, Brando is actually given credit for bringing realism to film acting. The concept of realism intrigues me because for all the talk about pessimists and optimists, the realists never get any recognition. This led me to wonder about the differences between the three categories, and so I decided to explore the idea a bit further. If the pessimist sees the glass as half-empty, and the optimist see it as half-full, the realist is just happy there’s something in the glass. Optimism is seen as having a positive outlook on life no matter what the circumstances are. The optimist will not internalize negative occurrences and make them into personal shortcomings, and he or she will see them as challenges rather than impossibilities. Additionally, the optimist also will not allow the bad thing that happened to predict more unfavorable things in the future, choosing instead to see it as an isolated incident. Optimists are generally more healthy and have longer lifespans. Pessimists, on the other hand, tend to have a negative outlook on life and expect unfavorable outcomes for most things. When unfortunate things occur, they will internalize them and turn them into personal shortcomings. Those personal failures then become a prediction for the future, which starts a cycle in which they can see nothing but more failure ahead. Since negativity can be the source of so much tension and stress, it can lead to a general feeling of malaise and even more serious ailments and illnesses.

Where do the realists fit into all this? He or she sees each day as a new opportunity, objectively without any preconceived notions. If things didn’t go the way they expected yesterday, they wake up and see the day as a chance for a new start, unbiased by the events of the previous day. They tend to hope for things that seem likely or possible, never reaching beyond realistic expectations, but rather they take a practical approach to life more than anything else. Ironically, optimists see realists as pessimists because they seem passive and impartial, rather than brightly hoping for the best possible outcome. Pessimists see realists as optimists, of course, because they seem to remain stubbornly neutral in the face of negativity, rather than descending into a black hole of despair.

So this begs the question: which one are you? No matter what your answer, if you’re a local optimist you can head over to Cooper River Distillers today and view the drinks as half full. Local pessimists can see them as half-empty. And the realists can order The Marlon Brando. Cheers and Happy Friday!!

The Marlon Brando

1½ oz Copper & Vine Honey Brandy* (from Cooper River Distillers right here in Camden)
½ oz Bearings Cold-Brewed coffee
1 oz fresh orange juice
1 dash orange bitters
2 oz club soda

Place all the ingredients (except the club) in the bottom half a cocktail shaker and shake with ice until very cold. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over 1 large cube. Top with the club. Express an orange peel over the drink, run along the rim of the glass, and drop in. Enjoy!

*The Honey Brandy is made by adding 1 part of a 1:1 honey syrup to 4 parts of the Copper & Vine brandy.

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