After a very rough couple of days I had a moment of personal epiphany waiting for a train at Union Square. It has been for the last few weeks that I find myself waiting for the L Train in the early afternoon after leaving the gym, and while I lean against my large metal column passing the time until my ride home arrives I am inevitable approached by the same shaved head, small pony tailed, orange toga wearing, tambourine playing, pamphlet distributing… gentleman. At first I was, as usual, polite yet dismissive, and yet as the days became weeks and his advances getting more aggressive trying to ply me with a poorly edited brochure, I reached a point where I snapped and asked him if he was blindly distributing his attack on education and logic. I instantly regretted my outburst, and attributed it to the swirling chaos of my life at the time. More and more I thought about it until I realized that although I do blatantly despise the pressure that these people force upon others to ‘awaken’ to their own religion, I also know that before I judge anything I should first attempt to understand it. This afternoon I was post-workout, apple in hand, waiting for the train when of course I was approached by our local Union Square Hare Karishna Ambassador. Being in a sour mood I was tempted to repeat my actions and send him packing, but fortunately I had sustenance in hand and time to kill. So instead of sending him on to the next cold dismissal I invited him to sit down and explain what exactly it was he was trying to accomplish and why I should tolerate his overly aggressive tactics. After hearing this man out it was quickly reaffirmed that I did not support or find logic in his personal gospel, but at least I knew that from fact rather than bias. In return I asked him to listen to my own views and prompted him about spending the time he was using up with handing out flyers and to instead go out and in the name of Hare Karishan volunteer his time with someone who was helping others. Rather than request that people listen to him without reason, lead by example and show people why the would want to be apart of his belief. He kindly listened to my retort, and then continued down the train path handing out booklets. Maybe tomorrow I will stop him again and repeat our interaction, it seems to me that might speak to him.
What did come from all of this is a reminder that I firmly believe to first write off something as wrong or at least disagreeable with your own personal views, you must know it. I now know one more thing about the world I am in, and although my beliefs on it did not change, at least I have a firm leg to stand on when asked why.
As the weeks plod on out here, more and more alcoholic work is seeping up through the cracks, and I am taking every chance I get to dive deeper into the stills or take shelter behind a bar. Most recently I have started bartending at Amor Y Amargo back at home in the East Village. This awesome, albeit minuscule, bar housed within a complex of other well known bars is a showcase for something near and dear to my heart: bitters. As a showroom for the Bittermens Bitters and a bar ware general store this space serves multiple purposes, and Saturday nights you will find me behind the narrow bar pouring out drinks stuffed with bitter and complex flavors. Centering on using Amaros from around the world, and a house made sweet vermouth on tap, we have a great time putting out cocktails to an extremely nice and always intrigued crowd. I am extremely excited to be part of the team down there, and it has done wonders for breaking me free of the solitude of distilling alone all the time! There are actually people out in the world to interact with!
Yesterday wrapped up a city wide cocktail event here in NY. The Manhattan Cocktail Classic is a 5 day rampage of learning and drinking; bar tenders and cocktail enthusiasts gather in the city to attend events ranging from stories told by world famous bars or instructional seminars on crafting the ultimate Old Fashioned. I happened to win tickets to an event that was oddly appropriate, if not a little redundant, to which Jackie and I attended. The History and Current Landscape of Distilling in NY. Hosted by two gentlemen opening a distillery not too far from where ours is now. The lecture itself was actually quite enjoyable and featured in it for a good portion of the presentation was a section solely on Kings County Distillery and the methods and booze we are making. Almost more importantly the lecture was sponsored by Pernod-Ricard which produces any number of fine spirits, and we were delivered a new and different cocktail to sip on every 10-20 minutes… by the end we had a whole lineup of empty glasses and were in great need of a hearty dinner. I’m now convinced that all lecture style classes should include servers, bussers, and booze. Beyond the inspiring libations, it was also a really nice chance to meet the other members in my small and specialized field in NYC. Gathered all into one room were all of the current distilleries, and being able to see what was coming up is really a neat thing, and finally I see a small community forming around the craft distillery industry in Brooklyn, something I have been looking forward to for quite some time. More coming up soon about the current evolution of our little distillery into a bigger little distillery.