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Back 2 (cocktail) school season

School restarting often marks the ramping up of my busy season. Summer vacations wane, and people find themselves planning things closer to home. For fun, I brainstormed parallels between what we learned in school and a cocktail class.

The early years of school are hard to remember. A blur of playtime and foundational lessons, but one thing I recall is “show and tell.” The ceremonial bringing in of a favorite toy or keepsake and telling your classmates about it. This same ritual can play out with a bottle we’ve acquired or a drink we’ve learned to make. One of the things that can make a glass of wine, a spirit, or a cocktail greater than the sum of its actual parts is being told the story of how it came to be and why.

Taking this a step further is the early lesson of sharing. But instead of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and fruit rollups, it’s something we think our grownup friends will enjoy. With life at times feeling hard or frustrating, it comes with the added benefit that I think is best captured in the saying, “If you’re having trouble making yourself happy, make someone else happy.” Inviting someone over to share something with them is a generous thing to do.

The other day, I heard something that made me think about art and music class. Where we learned skills with our hands. I listened to the actor (and devoted woodcarver) Nick Offerman talk about the importance of making things with our hands. Not just for ourselves as an outlet but also to give to others.

"Tying into consumerism, people think, 'Oh shoot, it’s somebody’s birthday, anniversary, what have you, I need to go buy them a card.' And I say, 'Make them a damn card.' Take a piece of paper out of the printer, fold it in half. Take a pencil or a crayon or better, and draw a heart, and open it up and say, 'I love you, love Nick.' That’s the bare minimum that is worth so much more than any B.S. Hallmark card from the drugstore. Because it says not only I love you, but it says, I took the time.”

We’re lucky to have capable mixologists and witness the rise of high-quality ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails. But at times, we should recapture the world of making perhaps imperfect but loving things with our hands.

Finally, one word guaranteed to trigger a feeling of dread in most is homework. But the point of many homework assignments was to practice what we learned in class that day. The way I got better at addition or multiplication was not doing it once, but being drilled on it. If getting better at making cocktails sounds good, you need to practice wielding your shaker, stirring a drink, etc. And the good news I have is that your friends would love for you to “practice” on them.

Happy back-to-school season!


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