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  • Brian Maxwell

Day 44: Shangri-La


Across the globe, people finally have the time to catch up on those long forgotten projects. I've seen tutorials on every hobby imaginable, fitness equipment is nearly impossible to find in stores, and I've seen so many photos of bread baking, I think we're all gaining weight just from looking. All of this spare time, my thirsty readers, seems like a great time to dive into all the books we never seemed to have time to read before.


There's always been this magical feeling, when I've escaped into a book. As an only child, I didn't really have other children around to play sports with, or get into mischief. I found fiction a great way to escape, and have adventures of my own from home. Each story took me somewhere different. I was hooked. Most of the stories I loved were usually set in a far off place, and there always seemed to be this underlying idea of "Paradise."


In the 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, author James Hilton describes a land known as Shangi-La. This mystical and harmonious place is set in the Kunlun Mountains, and the characters of the novel happen upon it's location. This Himalayan Utopia has become the western ideal of a tropical Garden of Eden. The idea of Shangri-La is a place where everything is wonderful and at peace. Shangri-La has become a state of mind.


While reading over Lost Horizon again, there was a particular passage which spoke to our current situation. “We have reason. It is the entire meaning and purpose of Shangri-La. It came to me in a vision long, long ago. I foresaw a time when man exalting in the technique of murder, would rage so hotly over the world, that every book, every treasure would be doomed to destruction. This vision was so vivid and so moving that I determined to gather together all things of beauty and culture that I could and preserve them here against the doom toward which the world is rushing. Look at the world today. Is there anything more pitiful? What madness there is! What blindness! A scurrying mass of bewildered humanity crashing headlong against each other."


Something about this really spoke to me. Those of us who worked in the world of cocktail bars and restaurants, know this feeling, though perhaps to a less extreme degree. We hold our craft in such a high regard, obsessing to a degree where we don't feel comfortable anywhere else. We fuss and obsess over every single detail, until we have this perfect world, an experience we've preserved and curated for the enjoyment of our guests. The outside world keeps changing, keeps moving, sometimes not in the most pleasant ways, but inside, we create our own Shangri-La.


Shangri-La

1.5oz Dry Gin (Bombay Sapphire)

.5oz Pineapple Liqueur (Giffard Caribbean Pineapple is what I used, but this could also be a great opportunity to try out that pineapple syrup I'm sure you have.)

.25oz Banana Liqueur (Tempus Fugit Banane)

(Absinthe)


Nick & Nora Glass

Shake and fine strain into chilled glass.

Top with spritz of absinthe.

Garnish with marigold petals.


*I've done the finish on this cocktail 3 different ways, for 3 different bars, using kombu water, a bergamot tincture, and absinthe. I included the absinthe version, as I felt it would be the easiest to replicate at home. The Shangri-La is a great chameleon of a drink, so have fun with it.*

I wish we could be in Shangri-La, a place where everything is perfect. Unfortunately, the world is messy, especially now. Perhaps, I'll escape in one of those adventures from childhood today. Hopefully I'll be serving these again soon. Until tomorrow, keep shaking.

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