Day 237: Cape of Good Fear
On the morning of March 17, 2020 our way of living as we knew it changed forever, but we had no idea just how much it would change or for how long. The COVID-19 virus was here, and there was no turning back. That was the day bars and restaurants were ordered to close in most major American cities, along with all other non-essential businesses. Thinking this would only last for a few weeks, I decided to write a cocktail piece with a new recipe everyday, to try and give some comfort to the wonderful guests who've made our dreams a reality over the years. After returning to work in June, I decided to end the series on Day 100, yet here we are, still deep in the middle of a global pandemic with no end in sight. Then yesterday happened. Yesterday we were given hope. Yesterday we announced a new president-elect of the United States, ending what felt like a nightmare for millions of Americans. Today is Day 237, and our fear is turning to hope.
Hello again my thirsty readers, and welcome back to the show. A lot sure has happened since the last time we were here, and I couldn't let today pass without a few words and of course a drink. Our troubles are far from over, but I sometimes wonder how we got here in the first place. How did we mess this up so badly, and when did so many people become devoid of empathy.
The once busy streets of my beloved New Orleans became so silent and empty. There was no jazz music, and the amazing smells of restaurants in the Crescent City had disappeared. I found myself unsure of where I belonged, a shaker without a home essentially. All I had ever known was the business of food and drinks, trying to put a much-needed smile on the face of my guest. When you spend your life trying to bring happiness to the world around you, it's painfully easy to spot the ugliness when it emerges.
Since the pandemic began, I've heard the term "living in fear" thrown around a lot. This phrase usually comes as a response to logical safety measures for a virus which has killed over a million people worldwide. An entire hoard of people who feel their precious "rights" have been infringed upon, simply because they've been inconvenienced. "Living in fear" they say. It's funny, because I began living in fear on November 3, 2016.
The impossible happened four years ago. The American people elected a candidate to the highest office in the nation who had been a failed business man many times over, was currently known for being the walking embodiment of every negative American stereotype, and just to top it all off, he had a reality show where people would compete for a fake job just to be told "you're fired." Donald Trump became the true virus in our nation, and it was COVID-19 which purged him. It took a global pandemic for the public to understand how badly this man was in over his head, yet a large segment still felt he was their "savior."
Dictators don't always rise to power with a surge of authority. Sometimes it begins in a much more subtle way. For Donald Trump, he gave people targets in which to aim their blame, rather than solutions. Making the average citizen believe they didn't have what they wanted in life because of immigrants or the political "elite." When asked to denounce domestic terrorists and white supremacy, he did what he always does, and he just feigned ignorance. "Which groups are you talking about? I don't know anything about that." He took a country divided and tore it further apart, highlighting the worst in all of us. He created fear, and fear is what we came to know. This is why I cried tears of joy yesterday, when Joe Biden was announced as the victor of the 2020 presidential race. I almost pause at the use of the word "victor," since he's about to take on a job I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. He is inheriting a country, where almost half of the people chose hate over progress, hate over science, and hate over unity.
A month after the pandemic began, as I've mentioned before readers, I said goodbye to New Orleans and made the journey home to Pittsburgh. My adventures were over for now, and I'd been considering coming home for a long time. Its funny how so much hate and division can make us long for the comforts of our childhood home. I had spent the past decade moving around, experiencing, and living the life I had chosen. There had been a struggle inside me for years, every time I thought of the Steel City. I certainly had no idea how vital the state of Pennsylvania would become just a few months later.
There are so many examples of the flames fanned by the Trump presidency, but one in particular stays with me, since it happened at home. On October 27, 2018, a 46 year-old man walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and he opened fire, killing eleven worshipers and wounding another six. Antisemitism isn't new in this country, but it had become emboldened. Racism is not new in this country, but it had become emboldened. Hate is not new in the country, but it had become emboldened. The leader of the free world, not only didn't denounce actions like these, he encouraged them. "Very fine people on both sides," he would say. This isn't a popularity contest Donald, these are people lives. Shame on you.
Two years later, I walk into another synagogue, just blocks from Tree of Life. This is where I would cast my ballot for change. This is where I would do the right thing, hoping millions more would do the same. After submitting my ballot on election day, a flood of emotions came over me. I knew this was sometimes big. I knew this was a moment I would remember for the rest of my life. I'm sure we all feel that way right now. We've literally lived our lives in fear for the past four years, and it's been an ugly, terrifying fear. It's time now for a "good fear." It's time now to act in the best interest of our futures and our children's' futures That good fear will keep us vigilante, fearing this could happened again. I like this fear much better, and I think I'll stay here, in my own Cape of Good Fear.
Cape of Good Fear
2oz London Dry Gin
.5oz Bonded Bourbon
.75oz Cranberry Shrub
.75oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1oz Sage Syrup
1oz Lime Juice
1oz Pineapple Juice
.25oz Angostura Bitters
Tall footed glass such as a Thistle or Hurricane
Whip shake and pour unstrained.
Top with crushed ice.
Garnish with pineapple fronds, orchid, and a parasol-cranberry skewer.
4 cups Fresh Cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1.5 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
Simmer all ingredients except vinegar until the cranberries break down.
Mix in vinegar and strain.
So many of us woke up today feeling like we had just escaped from the longest nightmare of our lives. After spending four years unable to breath, the air has never tasted so sweet. In no way does this mean the pandemic is over, nor does it mean we don't have a lot of work to do with hate in this country. What it does mean is we can now move in the right direction to remedy these things, to move forward. May we never let this happen again. Let us never forget that nearly half of the country wanted more of this. We see you, and your hate will not be tolerated any longer. Your hate is not welcome here. It's time to do away with tolerance of the intolerant. We must remain vigilant. Today though, we get to smile again. As always, stay angry my friends, and keep shaking.