For my last blog of 2012 I am attempting a list. Not New Year resolutions, Top 5s nor Best Ofs; instead here are three themes that have recurred throughout the year for me. And to each of these themes, I dedicate a favoured cocktail from 2012.
We are a drama generating phenomenon.
Can anything be other than what it is in this moment? More than ever before, this year has shown me that the longer I resist how it is, the more I live in how it isn’t. And so to all this drama, I dedicate Spuntino’s Negroni.
I first visited Spuntino on a day that I was obsessing about a one-sided romance, in May 2011. My already muddled brain was being attacked by advice about learning from the past and moving into the future. Spuntino and its Negroni took me in and since that day I always return to this diner where time stands still. Where it isn’t about blame or guilt, looking back or moving forward, but about staying right where I am.
The first time I heard of a Negroni was in one of the later seasons of The Sopranos. After that it popped up everywhere – an Orson Welles quote, a Tennessee Williams play, a James Bond short story, and now my own bar. For the days I generate more drama than even my overactive imagination can handle (and can’t escape to Spuntino), I make myself this classic cocktail. One that proves that life is simple after all.
Make it at home: 30ml gin, 30ml Campari, 20ml sweet red vermouth. Stir with ice, pour into a short glass with ice. Sip. Drama gone.
Unhappily married people talk about their children. A lot.
It has been a joy to see children of close friends and family grow from squealing babes into real people. This joy aside it is nothing short of Chinese torture to listen to couples gloss over their dead relationships with the sheen of parenthood. So to every parent who thinks their friends are as interested in the child’s nanny problems, baby yoga classes, and teething trauma I dedicate Indigo’s Fresh Kiwi Margarita. (You can even share the slice of kiwi with your child.)
Indigo changed the way Bombay made restaurants. My first meal there was with a friend who thought we were on a date. I remember needing several of Indigo’s delicious Kiwi Margaritas to get through the awkwardness of the night. Fortunately I drank them on real dates too and for years the Kiwi Margarita stood for a perfect night out in Bombay. Then everyone I knew got married, made babies, and forgot to pay attention to anything outside of feeding schedules, school admissions and maid salaries. Now I go to Indigo with these friends because nothing less than a Kiwi Margarita will distract them.
A gentle shift to a right brain way of life.
For too long I have led a left-brain life of right/wrong, deadlines and timelines. And to quote My Stroke of Insight author Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, “it does that thing with my brow”. In 2012 I came face to face with my desperate need to lead life sequentially; with the travesty of comparing my journey to another’s; with the futility of arguing with myself. I also came upon relationships that debunk the “rules”. So here is to being ever present and lost in time. And nothing less than Dishoom’s Bombay Martini will do.
Dishoom Covent Garden’s glamorous older sister has finally decided to come out and play in Shoredicth, and she’s found a dashing playmate in the restaurant’s Daruwalla Carl Brown. On a rainy night not so long ago I had the absolute pleasure of having Carl fizz, smash, sour and julep me through his spanking new Permit Room menu. Given Carl’s obvious talent and my Dishoom crush, it wasn’t difficult for many cocktails to impress. From Edwina’s Affair to Paan Sour, a Bollybellini to Absinthe Menaka… I was in heaven. But we hadn’t got there yet.
And then Carl brought out a bottle of Tanqueray Rangpur and stirred me one of the best martinis I have ever had – the Bombay Martini is timeless. (Tanqueray Rangpur gin, Antica Formula, Noilly Prat , and Dishoom bitters of vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, sandalwood, cassia wood and wormwood which take a month to infuse).
2012 is Year of the Dragon. The Chinese consider the dragon an unpredictable animal… exactly as my year has been. This has also been my Year of Relationships (2006 – Year of Change; 2010 – Year of Online Dating; 2011 – Year of BA Miles). I’ve had an old lover reappear and a platonic friend propose less than platonic feelings. I saw my parents as human beings and our relationship changed. My best friend saw me with all my faults and nothing changed. I forged a new relationship with acceptance – with work, with family, but most importantly with myself.
In 2013 – here’s to living fearlessly. Happy New Year.