Day 45: Weeping Coconuts
The first thing I saw on my social media stream today, wasn't another article spouting death tolls, or lock-down protests. What I saw was the announcement of another bar closure. Famed Manhattan cocktail institution, Pegu Club, has declared they will not reopen, post pandemic. The upstairs lounge, named after the classic cocktail of the same name, was a pioneer in the early days of the mid-00's cocktail revival. I can't even name the amount of friends who've worked behind that bar, but I can still remember my first time walking up those stairs. It wasn't just any other place. It was special.
Hello again, thirsty readers. It would appear the writing is on the wall. We can no longer deny this. Things, post Covid, will not be the same as we remember from before. We've all waxed poetically about "going back to work," and reopening, as if we cant just hit the "on-switch." This doesn't appear to be the case. If an institution such as Pegu can't make a go at things, what can we come to expect from those "less-established" bars? We could focus on the sadness, or we could perhaps celebrate the work that's been done, just as we have with so many great creators.
Towards the end of her life, Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo turned her attention to still life painting. Her health had deteriorated, and she longer wished to portray herself via the self portraits the world had come to love. Without herself as a vessel to display emotion, she chose two coconuts to represent her anguish, in her 1951 work Weeping Coconuts.
In this painting, we see limes, oranges, a papaya wedge, and the coconuts, which form the central focus of the piece. The coconuts appear to be weeping, a personification of sadness. Kahlo was extremely sad and frustrated at this time in her life, as her health was fading, making it almost impossible for her to work.
Just three years later, few days before Frida Kahlo died, she wrote in her diary: "I hope the exit is joyful - and I hope never to return -Frida." The world had lost one of it's great artists, but we were left with such powerful works to remember her. The brushstrokes, are indicative of her waning health, as are the less intricate details of this particular painting. In a way, this makes Weeping Coconuts even more powerful and important.
I weep for you today Pegu Club. The world hasn't simply lost another place to drink. We've lost a feeling, a vibe, and the setting of so many memories, late night tales, and more than anything, those beautiful beautiful cocktails. Today, we thank you for all you've done.
1oz Hibiscus Rum
.5oz Passion Fruit Syrup
.5oz Lime Juice
.5oz Orange Juice
.5oz Pineapple Juice
1oz Coconut Cream
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Whip shake and pour unstrained.
Top with crushed ice.
Garnish with pineapple fronds, orange slice, and flower.
1 Liter Light Puerto Rican Rum
.5 cups dried Hibiscus
.5 tsp Orange Blossom Water
Stir together and allow to steep 30 minutes.
Strain and serve.
Be sure not to steep too long, as your rum will become bitter
As I'm writing this, I can't help but wish I was pulling up that corner stool one last time. Like so many others, we are going to miss you Pegu Club. When the gears start moving again, please get out there and support your favorite spots, in whatever form possible. These aren't just bars and restaurants for us. These are our homes. These are our families. Weep for them all today, but please don't forget them. Raise a glass , let the exit be joyful, and keep shaking.