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Up in Smoke Cocktail

What have you lost?

Up in Smoke was made for summer, by summer. But not just any summer. Pandemic summer.

For those of you without a grill, this time can feel particularly sadistic. That's why we added a touch of liquid smoke and spice to this drink, just for you. One sip and you're back in your friend's backyard, smoke and conversation drifting through the air, a plate of good food in one hand, cold drink in the other.

If you like incorporating seasonal produce into your drinks as much as we do, come June, this one's for you. I know people who loathe bananas, abhor strawberries, and flat out reject kiwi fruit, but I've never met anyone who doesn't like a peach. Peaches are perfect. Their sticky sweetness is a salve for summer sweat. They are a universe unto themselves.

If you start with perfection, there's no room for improvement, right? Wrong! Bring in bourbon (Bulleitt is my go-to for mixed drinks), walnut bitters (pecan works too), and maple syrup, combine with liquid smoke and firewater bitters (I promised you a BBQ, didn't I?), and you start floating above a sea of perfection. Up there it's cool and soothing, with stunning views. It's where you want to be. Up in Smoke will take you there.

This cocktail is a lot of fun, but don't forget, escape is temporary. You can only have your head in the clouds for so long before you come crashing back to reality. When that happens, it hurts like hell. Up in Smoke is a reminder of what we've lost. Pandemic summer, remember? Oh, how the time flies.

In March, I lost my day job and important creative meetings because of the pandemic. Three months later, I said goodbye to my dog of nine years. I consider myself lucky.

Countless people are without jobs, homes, health insurance, and safety because of it. People have lost their loved ones, or even their lives.

Nowadays, we all relate to the same story: '2020 was the year I was going to do [insert important life event].'

This was the year I planned to make my first feature film. John was in the works on a documentary. We had a trip to the Grand Canyon booked. Those endeavors are merely on pause, but at times, it feels like they've evaporated. 'Up in smoke' means 'to be wasted'. No matter what your circumstances, it's hard to argue that February feels like a different lifetime. Back then, we had plans. We had things then that we no longer have, like the joy of hugging a friend at a BBQ without fear of dying.

We're caught up in what could have been. Maybe we didn't even know what we had until it was gone. We tell ourselves things would be better, if only [insert something beyond our control] didn't exist. Right now, that something is the pandemic, and it's a big something. It's everything. But at any given point, that something could be anything. There's a hell of a lot we can't control, at any given time.

Time. That's all it is.

It takes time to recover when the rug gets pulled out from under you. The ground is hard, and it hurts like hell. It's important to grieve. Now is the time to sleep, eat comfort food, drink cocktails (!), and yes, cry. It's all too easy to get lost thinking about what we've, well... lost. Even if we feel like all we have is time, and it's going by way too fast, the important thing is to not feel like it's wasted. Recovery is never wasted. It's how you rebuild.

Designing the sets, lighting, framing, and photographing our drinks has been a salve. I have a new creative outlet to channel my film-making background, just on a smaller scale.

Up in Smoke is a good reminder. It's not what you lost in the fire; it's what's born from the ashes.

Join the Club to get the recipe for Up in Smoke.

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