Donn Beach often said, “If you can’t get to paradise, I’ll bring it to you.” Why wait? For, as Martin Denny pointed out, “Exotic is everywhere.” With the right pair of eyes, one can enhance or transcend the everyday. And with the right ingredients plus a jigger, shaker and strainer, one can make a mean and lovely dream-like drink. I recall that, during my first three wintry months of living in Chattanooga, the house I occupied had a rat problem, broken central heating, and a roof gradually caving in over the kitchen sink. My fellow co-conspirator Evan Lipson and I would spend evenings in this collapsing tomb-like kitchen, tinkering with magical liquid masterpieces in chilly conditions. After shaking and straining, and after the first taste of the “nectar of the gods,” my gloomy disposition would lift and the environment would transform.
The cocktail had served as the “divine transport,” as musician Zack Kouns would put it. In the 1300s, Jean de Roquetaillade would have called it aqua vitæ, or “water of life.” My experience was proof to me that one can bathe in the warmth of the sun anytime of the year and under most any circumstance. Autumn is nigh and winter shall follow. What better time to cross the threshold into exotic and playful realms?