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  • Brian Maxwell

Day 36: Redemption Song


Before a world when cocktails consumed my life, I worked in a lot of different types of bars and restaurants. There was no Smuggler's Cove or PDT in this world, and you were lucky to get anything more than a beer or highball in all but a few places across the entire country. This was the earlier days of music downloads as well, before iTunes or Spotify were filled with playlists for all occasions. We just had the music we purchased (or pirated), which meant you'd hear the same songs over and over during some shifts.


To this day, I can't hear certain Bob Marley songs without mentally going back to that place, to that bar. I'm perfectly fine with this. This was a time when I was still figuring things out, when I had no idea what the future held. We can't exactly get those days back, and sometimes it's even painful to think of them, but music can help us temporarily remember. There's something familiar about that feeling right now, and the words of "Redemption Song" have been playing in my head a lot these pasts few days.


"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds. These haunting words from Bob Marley's 1979 "Redemption Song" are taken from a speech given by Jamaican political activist, Marcus Garvey. There's probably no song more iconic from Marley, and it's a personal anthem to many. It was unlike anything he had ever recorded in the past, and those close to him have said the sound is deeply influenced by dealing with his own mortality, having recently been diagnosed with cancer. A few short years later, Marley would pass away, due to his illness.


It's never easy to free yourself from mental slavery, especially when it's one you're put on yourself. Something many of you might not know about me, is I haven't had an alcoholic beverage, aside from the occasional sip and spit of developing new cocktails, in almost two years. It's something that cost me friendships, jobs, and my sanity. I'm a better shaker these days, even without the spirits. These sober years have been my redemption song.


I'm obviously not saying you shouldn't be consuming alcohol, quite the opposite! We are all wired differently, and my body just doesn't react to the rum in the same way as most of yours. Knowing you can enjoy these cocktails in a way I can't, is something that keeps be grounded and moving forward. That's what brings a smile to my face every single day. So let's start shaking, shall we?


Redemption Song

1.5oz Aged Jamaican Rum (Worthy Park Single Estate if you can get your hands on a bottle.)

.5oz Overproof Jamaican Rum (Rumbar, also from Worthy Park, has great notes for this, but if you want to bump up the esters, grab that Rum Fire.)

.75oz Creme de Cacao (I used Giffard, but there are so many great brands out there which work!)

.5oz Orgeat

.75oz Lime Juice

3 dashes Angostura Bitters


Tiki Mug

Whip shake, or use a spindle mixer for a better texture, if you have one.

Pour unstrained.

Top with crushed ice.

Garnish with mint sprigs, citrus rosette or flowers, and freshly grated nutmeg.

Do you have a song of redemption? Is there something is your life you've overcome, but you'll never forget? I know I'll be doing a lot of reflecting today. Try and stay rational out there, it's a pretty surreal world where we currently find ourselves. Hug those you love from a distance, stay at home (if you can't, I thank you), and keep shaking.


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