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December New Moon: Getting ready to close out 2017

December New Moon: Getting ready to close out 2017

I think you all know by now that I occasionally like to interject a little bit of astrology into my cocktail posts. Today is going to be one of those days. Earlier this morning, just before 2 am, the last new moon of 2016 occurred. A new moon always marks the end of one lunar cycle and the beginning of another; it’s a constant or a given, something that has been happening since forever. Each month we’re given a new opportunity to make a to-do list and tackle it with fresh energy. This is especially significant right now because in a few days we’ll be turning that to-do list into our New Year’s resolutions. The December new moon encourages us to turn our thoughts inward and reflect on what goals we’d like to set for ourselves, not just for this month, but for the entire year ahead. It also suggests that these goals can actually be soothing and healing for us, because they impose order and provide some structure to our lives, thus helping us to make sense out of the day-to-day chaos that happens to all of us. They also give us clarity and insight into what we really want, but it’s up to us to figure out the steps we need to take to actually achieve them.

In creating this December New Moon cocktail, I decided that mezcal was going to be my base spirit since it’s such an agent of clarity for so many people. After all, at some point in our lives haven’t we all claimed to see more clearly after a shot of tequila?? For my next spirit I went with Yellow Chartreuse for its color and its subtle herbal profile, and because I love the way it pairs together with mezcal. Chartreuse has been made in the same way by the Carthusian monks since 1737, based on careful instructions contained in a manuscript from 1605, that they are not sharing with anyone. Apparently French and Italian monks are equally secretive! I felt like this ancient recipe brought the idea of order and structure to the drink. Ginger and lemon also work well with mezcal, and since both are very soothing they fit in with the theme of the cocktail too. The chamomile syrup added just the right amount of sweetness to offset the lemon’s acidity, and the sage bitters echoed the herbal notes in the Chartreuse. In terms of symbolism, chamomile encourages us to have patience and sage brings us healing. I was happy with how all the components came together in this drink, and I felt like they each had a deeper meaning as well. It reminded me of a Penicillin Cocktail, with its smoky, gingery, lemony profile, but mezcal is very different from Scotch in that it has that elusive element to it that can only be described as funk. The Chartreuse, chamomile, and sage enhance that funkiness, bringing it even more to the forefront. Sip this cocktail slowly and patiently and let the new moon guide you as you write your New Year’s resolutions. Don’t forget to make drinking new cocktails one of them!

December New Moon

1½ oz Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal (or your favorite mezcal)*
½ oz Yellow Chartreuse
½ oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
½ oz lemon juice
½ chamomile agave syrup**
2 dashes DRAM Apothecary Wild Mountain Sage bitters
Candied ginger cube for garnishing

Place all the ingredients in the bottom half of a shaker tin and add your ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds or until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a ginger cube on a skewer. Enjoy!

*You can swap tequila for the mezcal, but just remember that it won’t have the same smoky flavor profile that mezcal does. Smokiness in a drink does not appeal to everyone, so the tequila makes a good substitute in that case.

**Steep 2 chamomile teabags in hot water for 3 minutes or so. Combine equal parts of the tea and the agave and store in a Mason jar in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Friday Musings: Who was your Terrible Love?

Friday Musings: Who was your Terrible Love?

terriblelove2For our final cocktail of Tequila/Mezcal week here on the blog, I decided to splurge and buy a bottle of the Del Maguey Chichicapa so I could make the fabulous cocktail from Death & Co. called Terrible Love. I had made it once before, but I didn’t have the mezcal on hand that day so I substituted tequila instead. I remember thinking that it was incredible with the tequila; I couldn’t wait to see what it would be like with the Chichicapa. Whenever I make cocktails, I gather together all my ingredients and equipment in what’s become a kind of ritual for me. It gets me in the right zone and that’s where I need to be to make them as precisely as possible. As I was getting things ready today my mind began to wander, and I started thinking about what the name of this drink actually means. This is the Friday Musings post, after all.

So how do we define the idea of terrible love when it seems like a contradiction in terms? How can anything to do with love ever be terrible? I wondered if it was a figure of speech that I wasn’t familiar with, much like “mad love,” and was it possible to interchange the two terms. If you’re a Breaking Bad fan you might remember when Skinny Pete says to Jesse, “you know I have mad love for you…” I asked my sons what they thought about swapping out the two phrases and expressing such endearments to their friends. Their answer was an emphatic no. My youngest (the Long Island Ice Tea guy), put it this way, “No way I’d ever find myself saying ‘dude, you know I have terrrrible love for you.'”  I think I’m inclined to agree with him.

So is it a love then that’s bad for us? We’ve all certainly had those and hopefully we were able to escape relatively unscathed. Or how about a love that just can’t happen, for whatever reason? Now that’s a bit harder to walk away from and we often spend a long time thinking about what could have been. Or is it the love that leaves us heartbroken? That’s the worst one of all, the one you carry around with you forever… Maybe one of us is the unfortunate soul who has had a combination of all three with one person: the Trifecta of Terrible Love. It makes my heart hurt just thinking about it. Of course all those inspirational quotes on Instagram and Facebook would have us look at things a bit differently. Isn’t it true that sometimes these terrible loves help us get to a better place, one we could never have arrived at on our own? I believe that’s true, although it’s not always easy to see at the time. I’m sure we can all look back on relationships in our lives that were extremely painful to leave behind, yet they really did help us to grow into the next version of ourselves.

Phil Ward, the Death & Co. bartender who created this drink, was probably not going in this particular direction, but I like to think that great cocktails, much like great books, inspire us to be introspective and to think about the course our lives have taken. This is especially true after you’ve had more than one, right? In any event, Terrible Love is a truly special cocktail. The Del Maguey Chichicapa is smoky and complex, the Suze is bittersweet and spicy, and the St. Germain is like burying your nose in honeysuckle on a summer’s day. These 3 ingredients combined together, along with a dash of orange bitters, become something that is both bewitching and unforgettable… in much the same way as terrible love.terriblelove1

Terrible Love from Death & Co. in NYC

1 1/2 oz Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal
3/4 oz Suze Saveur D’Autrefois liqueur
1/2 oz St. Germain
1 dash of Fee Brothers orange bitters
Grapefruit for garnishing

Place all the ingredients except for the grapefruit twist into a mixing glass and fill 2/3 full with ice. Stir with a long handled bar spoon until very cold (about 30 – 45 seconds). Strain using a julep strainer, and pour over 1 large ice cube in an old-fashioned glass. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend everyone! See you all on Monday!