Wouldn’t it be wonderful if on the day we were born we were given a map, just like those old-fashioned ones that could be found at all the rest stops along the Jersey or PA Turnpikes. Can you still get those anywhere?? They showed all the major interstates, as well as the state highways, and some of the larger and smaller county roads. Sometimes there would be a cut-away section that showed particular areas in greater detail. Let’s say we were given such a map. What is it that I would like to see on it? I am thinking that it could be a kind of guide for what our lives are going to look like, the roads we would travel, the stops we would make along the way. We would see times when we would be driving on the interstates, crossing great distances and making huge strides. And there would be other points at which we would see ourselves on the smallest, most obscure of the county roads, completely lost and more than a little bit scared. But no such guide exists for us. We aren’t given any kind of a map, because if we were then we’d be able to anticipate everything that was about to happen, and that would simply not work. All of life’s brightest joys and darkest challenges are meant to take us by surprise. The plan we think we have, and the vision we think we see only end up trapping us and holding us as prisoners of our own imagination. The only way to truly experience life is to allow it to unfold, placing our faith in what we cannot know for sure, rather than what we think we see with certainty.
We may not have that map when we start out, but we most definitely have it when we finish up. At the end of our lives, we can look back and clearly see the roads we’ve traveled and the places to which they’ve taken us. But are they merely roads and places? Perhaps, but what if we choose to look at them in a different way? Is it possible to see this map as more of a diary of the people who have accompanied us on our individual journeys? We could even go so far as to call it a tribute. Let’s think about it. The major interstates are the people who have been the most significant for us in all the most crucial ways. They were there for some of our biggest moments, and their support, guidance, and love helped us grow into the best version of ourselves. We covered great distances with them, sometimes at high speeds, and we saw fantastic sights. The state highways are similar, but on a slightly smaller scale. Although they still represent people of great importance, their meaning is just a bit less intense than the major relationships in our lives. Sometimes a smaller county road took us on a beautiful day trip, or helped us find a place that completely surprised us. We may not have traveled them twice, but we remember them all the same. For me there was the woman at the DMV who gave me back my dad’s driver’s license after he died, and the clerk at the surrogate’s office who handed me tissues as I cried through the process of probating my parents’ will. I’ll never forget either of those women and the brief moments we spent together. They are part of my map for sure.
If we were lucky, most times our relationships were in alignment, so that when we saw a person as a major interstate, we knew quite clearly that they thought of us in exactly the same way. Occasionally things went awry, and someone took a different exit or we both hit a dead end, and we weren’t quite sure whether to follow the person in the one case, or turn around and try again with them in the other. Either way, we figured it out. It’s all there on the map. The worst case scenario, and the one that makes us all cringe, is the one in which we saw a person as a major interstate (maybe as big as I-90 that runs from Boston to Seattle) but we were only the tiniest of county roads for them. In all honesty, we may not even have made it onto their map. That’s hard and it hurts, but it doesn’t lessen their significance. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed. They are still one of our major interstates, but it’s for totally different reasons than we ever thought they’d be.
For today’s drink, I chose ingredients that were some of the major interstates on my cocktail journey. I began with the combination of rye whiskey and yellow Chartreuse because the first time I ever put them together, it was a transformational experience, and it completely changed the way I looked at cocktails. I then added a blueberry rosemary shrub from Element because Charlie Berkinshaw’s products introduced me to the world of shrubs and all its endless possibilities. I chose Black Cloud bitters for the same reason, and used the saffron mango flavor to echo the yellow Chartreuse. The Meyer lemon juice and the rosemary simple rounded out the drink. The end result was a kind of a whiskey sour that traveled in quite a few different directions, making it highly appropriate for this post. Enjoy this cocktail as you ponder one last thing. We’re all still creating our maps; in fact, some of you may be just getting started on yours. Don’t ever close yourself off to possibilities. That’s the worst thing you can do. Love doesn’t always look the way we expect it to, and sometimes we find it in a place that was never part of the plan. Go for it when you see it. Don’t let it scare you. It may end up being one of the most significant roads on your map. One way or another. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday.
We Need to Find the Map
2 oz of your favorite rye whiskey
½ oz Yellow Chartreuse
¾ oz Element [Shrub] Blueberry Rosemary
½ oz Meyer lemon juice
¼ oz rosemary simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar and water, rosemary added in and allowed to steep)
1 dash Black Cloud Saffron Mango bitters
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously until very cold. Double strain into a Nick & Nora glass and garnish with a rosemary sprig. Enjoy!