Going to Hell in a Spirits Basket?

Andy and I recently won the “Spirits Basket” in a fund raising auction at our church (!), a generous collection of bitters, an assortment of bar paraphernalia (the tiny bat in the photo is a muddler, used for getting medieval on the mint leaves when you’re making a julep), a copy of Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology and a one-year subscription to Imbibe magazine. It even included a jar of real marasca cherries imported from Italy, not those foul, unnaturally red maraschino things–or worse yet, green!–that you find in the grocery and that barely qualify as a food substance. Admittedly, I still have a slight ick! factor to contend with, for while these cherries taste worlds better than the grocery abominations (who knew they were supposed to be tart as well as sweet?!), they still have the same texture, which I viscerally link with the nasty ones. But I’m learning to love them fast.

We’re trying different cocktails most every evening. Last night we had calvados with triple sec, fresh orange and lemon juices and a touch of orange bitters. Lovely! It’s a treat having the tools, products and materials handpicked and gathered for us, to jumpstart our learning process. We’ll never be in their league of cocktailing, but I appreciate such a lovely basket of bar essentials being put together by Wes Moore and Chuck Taggart, of Gumbo Pages fame, a couple of guys who know more about the business of mixology than anyone else I know.

Bravo and thank you, Chuck and Wes, most generous donors of the Spirits Basket! You’re collectively da bomb! You’re heading to JazzFest even as I type this and probably won’t see it for a week or so, but know that your contribution to the church’s charitable programs is instructive, tasty and fun! Cheers! Salud! Slainte! Prost! Chin chin! Salute! and God bless!

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