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.

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Cocktail Musings: Abstract Flash

Cocktail Musings: Abstract Flash

A week or so ago I had the opportunity to visit the Brandywine Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, PA, known for its prominent collection of works by the Wyeth family. It has always been one of my absolute favorite places. I’ve had important moments there, conversations and realizations, endings and beginnings, that have affected me greatly. Each time I return, I leave with some sort of inspiration, although it has often come in the most unexpected ways. This last visit was no exception. There is an exhibit there that is currently on display that presents 37 abstract watercolors painted by Andrew Wyeth that have never been seen before by the public. For the most part, Wyeth is considered a realist who worked in the regionalist style. In simpler terms, he painted what he saw of the area in which he lived, and that happened to be the Brandywine Valley. He also captured light in the most magnificent way, and that incredible aspect of his talent has always made me feel as though I was inside his paintings, rather than merely viewing them. Despite his classification as a realist, Wyeth also saw himself as an abstractionist because he felt as though he presented a view of his subjects that was both innovative and singularly meaningful. This was something I did not know about Wyeth until I saw the exhibit and read the following quote by him: “My struggle is to preserve that abstract flash, like something you caught out of the corner of your eye.” If we consider the idea of seeing something in this way, that sudden glimpse that makes us turn our heads, isn’t it often true that what we think we saw isn’t really there at all? Can we even imagine attempting to capture something like that in a painting?

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Cocktail Musings: Moonful Intentions

Cocktail Musings: Moonful Intentions

In this past week, I looked at a number of articles and engaged in a few conversations that involved the idea of New Year’s resolutions. A lot of what I read recommended that we don’t set them at all, and the discussions that I had echoed this sentiment. And yet, without any resolutions, I admit that I have felt somewhat untethered, as though I’ve taken the first few steps in 2024 without a guide or an instruction booklet. I also think that I’ve come to look forward to January 1st as a day when I can press a proverbial reset button and start fresh on some things. Even though I’ve decided not to write down a list of resolutions this year, I find that they continue to creep into my head anyway. “I really want to stop using the word ‘just’ in a lot of my sentences.” “I should eat more beans.” “I’d like to work harder at being on time.” Hold down the laughter on that last one. Virgos are only late because we think we can do one more useful thing before tearing out the door, like quickly alphabetize the spice rack. You may insert an eye roll emoji here. All of this aside, the real question for me has always been why we feel the need to set resolutions in the first place. Where did the tradition come from? Apparently the Google answer to that query is that the practice dates back some 4,000 years to the time of the ancient Babylonians who made offerings to their gods at the start of the new year, which happened to be in mid-March at the beginning of the planting season. The Romans followed suit, but then changed over to the Julian calendar in 46 BC.

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Cocktail Musings: Labor of Love

Cocktail Musings: Labor of Love

I thought that December 31st was a good day to return to writing after a fall season filled will navigating certain time constraints, personal matters, and life changes. This past Friday, I worked my last shift behind the bar at Recklesstown. Although I will continue my creative role there, most of you will immediately recognize how different it will feel for me to no longer have a direct hand in making the cocktails that I create or the experience of watching people enjoy them, except when I myself sit on the other side of the bar as a customer. Nevertheless it’s time to have weekends free again and begin a semi-retired chapter of my life, one in which I can direct my focus and energy towards spending time with the people I love, doing the things that I enjoy most and exploring new possibilities. In the realm of what I would still call work, cocktails, writing this blog, and studying astrology all stand first in line, and as I prepared to return to my musings, I considered whether or not there might be a way to do a subtle combination of the three. Would it be possible to allow the upcoming week’s cosmic energy to drive my thoughts? Could I then subsequently offer them up to those reading not just as a reflection of what’s in my head, but also as a guide to what’s spinning around out in the ether? I wondered.

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Cocktail Musings: A Once Unresolved Matter

Cocktail Musings: A Once Unresolved Matter

One of the first concepts I learned when I began studying astrology was the idea of the twelve houses. Simply put, there is a kind of snapshot taken of the sky above and beneath the earth at the moment we are born. It contains the twelve constellations of the zodiac, the moon and the sun, and the eight remaining planets other than earth. Yes, astrologers still count Pluto; in fact, he is rather important. This snapshot becomes what is known as the natal chart, and it offers a blueprint of the energetic forces that we will carry with us throughout the remainder of our lives. It is divided into twelve different sections, with each one representing a certain area of our psyche and life experiences. Knowing a client’s exact birth time is crucial to astrologers because it informs us as to which constellation was coming up over the eastern horizon at that particular moment. This section of the sky is known as the first house, or the rising sign, and it sets the house placements for the remainder of the chart. The first house is the lens through which we interact with the world, and in the other houses we find things like our childhood experiences, our deep interpersonal relationships, our career and public selves, and our friendships, just to name a few of them. As with everything else in astrology, none of these house meanings were determined randomly, and have no origin in pop culture, but rather they were based on an ancient methodology that arose from a complex blend of the observable sky and corresponding mathematical calculations, as well as the principles of Greek philosophy and mythological stories. The natal chart can offer us insight into who we are as individuals by highlighting our strengths and challenges, and by helping us to understand why we behave and react in the ways in which we do. It is meant to be a tool of self-illumination, nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

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