It's a cruel, cruel summer. When 2020 started, none of us imagined we'd be here, still tethered to our homes, neck deep in a pandemic. It's a dangerous business going out your door, and not in the exciting, epic way Bilbo Baggins meant it.
I miss the beach. I miss the pool. I miss travel. I miss my family and friends most of all.
As the heavy August heat rolls in, cocktails provide refuge, not least because they require creativity. You start with one ingredient and add on, subtracting as needed, until you find the perfect balance. Never underestimate the power of creation, of finding symmetry in uncertain times.
The Summer of our Discontent started with cinnamon syrup. Since we make our own, we wanted to create a drink that highlights it. To me, orange and cinnamon are a perfect pairing, so we added cointreau. Next came the base spirit. Bourbon is the safer choice, but mezcal represents the deep, spicy haze of summer better. Combine with sherry, and you've already got a rich, complex drink. One sip evokes a crackling fireplace and cookies still in the oven. It's a taste of winter during the hottest month of the year. Add a couple notes of Aztec chocolate bitters, and you reach perfect harmony. As you continue to sip, and the ice in your glass slowly melts like snowfall, it becomes a bittersweet reminder of simpler times.
This is a brooding drink. It's designed to be enjoyed slowly, preferably with a good book. It's a drink for the loner in all of us, the one that contemplates the uncertainty at large.
The Winter of Our Discontent is John Steinbeck's last novel, and my favorite. The title comes from Shakespeare's Richard III, '"Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun [or son] of York.'
The plot follows a man struggling to maintain his moral integrity in a world that looks down on him for his mediocre social and economic status, leading (unsurprisingly) to immense emotional turmoil. He eventually decides to end his life on a secluded beach, but discovers a talisman inside his coat pocket, left by his daughter. He struggles against the tide, resolved to return the talisman to her. The novel ends with his fate uncertain.
At CCC, we hope our quest for creativity awakens your own, wherever it lives. Even if you're neck deep against the tide, even if symmetry is out of reach, you do not struggle alone.
Now, more than ever, we must provide each other with talismans.
Join the Club to get the recipe for Summer of our Discontent.