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In the year and half I have written (or ignored) my blog, it’s basically been a giant collection of recipes, evaluations, tips, and tricks for cocktails. I started my blog wanting to be Dale DeGroff, then Julia Child, after that Julie Powell and now, M. F. K. Fisher. Being honest, I had hoped to win Imbibe Magazine’s Cocktail Contest, asked to create cocktails for Obama and the hottest restaurants of Raleigh, and finally be discovered by Imbibe Magazine, the New Yorker, and Esquire and asked to be a feature writer on cocktails like Jason Wilson. When I realized that I wouldn’t actually become one of five favorite foodies, I took time off. I worked sixty hours a week. I thought about my blog and ignored it like an unnecessary household chore. I was laid off in November. Back to the blog I returned.

When I started working on this blog again, I had no idea why I was writing. Perhaps I still harbored some delusion of public recognition. I’ll own it. I’m realizing with my tens of hits per blog post (which is optimistic,) I have a small but loyal band of readers. I appreciate all of you.

For those of you that know me, a personal blog is out of character for me. When writing my personal statements for graduate school, I agonized over paragraphs. It could take hours for me to write 10 characters.When writing, I feel I have a duty to present the truth, unfettered but unexaggerated. Michael thinks that I need to make my blog more personal, and I have to admit I agree. I’m just not sure how. How do I admit faults to the interweb when I can’t admit them to myself? I can’t write a story to save my life. I can barely tell one. I guess I’m just going to start over a bit, and tell you about myself, why I write, and why I love cocktails. Let’s start with a quote from one of my new idols:

“When I write about hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth, and the love of it . . . and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied.” M. F. K. Fisher

Writing about drinking is similar to writing about food as Fisher states, but drinking rounds a new corner of gastronomy and intimacy. When we write about alcohol, we write about the promises and pitfalls of Alcohol: The Delightful Poison. At its best, alcohol promises intimacy, relaxation, freedom. At its worst: liver failure, depression, and overdosing. A cocktail is a sign that the responsible part of the day is over. People expect you to go back to work after food, but not liquor.

I’ve read and read and read for my blog. My search for cocktails has taken me to the 17th century through the 21st. I have fallen into 1) cookbooks, 2) drink recipe books, 3) histories of alcohol, food, alcohol companies, 4) Articles on taste 5) newspapers 6) magazines. I have tried drinks, flavors, and alcohols I never knew existed. I am a man obsessed. I have had to figure out why. It’s not just to have great drinks at home, because sometimes I’ll have wine or beer or a rum and coke. It’s not always to have great drinks when I go out. I don’t entertain often, so that’s not it.

Then it hits me. It’s the art of muddling. When you muddle, you take simple syrup and place it in the bottom of the glass. Then you take a piece of fruit, herb, or both and place it in the simple syrup in the bottom of the glass. Finally, take your muddler, and muddle the fruit to release the juices and essential oils into the simple syrup which captures what you’ve released.

Take a minute. Try it.

This is a fun song to listen to while you’re muddling:

Now that you’re done. I hope you see what I mean. The world disappears. The whole world becomes you and the piece of fruit or the herb. It’s this weird moment you have with a cocktail. By taking pleasure in the mundane, cocktail creation becomes transcendent. When we cook, many of us feel we’re reaching back into a tradition from our parents, to our grandparents, stretching back to eternity. With cocktails, few, if any of us, have that tradition to draw upon. Our parents did not teach us what specific drinks are  — like a Manhattan or a Gimlet —  much less how to make them. We lost or never had an alcohol tradition. By reentering a kitchen, and pairing or juicing a fruit for a cocktail, we are subversively sensual. Devilish, delicious, and divine. We might be using the skills that our tee totaling great-grandmother passed down, but not with her intentions.

After being laid off, I lost faith in my work abilities and myself. I had never been fired or laid off before, and I had no idea how to move forward. I had to write graduate applications telling people why they should let me in and give me money, and I could barely motivate myself to get out bed in the morning. How do you refind yourself and your faith? How do you relearn to believe you can contribute to the human condition?

I found it behind a bar. I found it with recipes. I found with alcohol. Culinary creations are one of the most honest reflections of ourselves. It speaks to our tastes and what we think of you the eater or drinker if you’re invited to someone’s house. It shows how we pay attention, but also how we want to challenge you and move you forward. Rather than telling a story or describing my fears, I created cocktails I loved and hoped that others loved, too.

Interestingly, the friends who hated my cocktails are those with whom I’m losing touch. The ones who love the cocktails are becoming more intimate friends.

So, that’s why I do what I do. If anything is unclear, let me know. I’m always happy to have a new topic to write about.

As always, happy and safe drinking.

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