Saturday, September 17, 2016

Not Quite Perfect

I had a wonderful day today. I have to admit; my day was not set up for success. I barely slept last night. Three hours after I finally dozed, my alarm nagged me awake. Some would say awake is a relative term if you saw me this morning. Needless to say, I was dragging.

Several things I needed to prepare for – it was supposed to be busy plus we had a rehearsal dinner for 35 this evening at the restaurant. We really wanted that to be perfect. It would all be followed by a four-hour drive home to my love. Long day on little sleep is far from setting myself up for success.
Remember those drinks that I told you about yesterday? Well, I started creating today with The Botanist Gin. I felt inspired. I didn’t want to share it with you until I had the recipe down perfectly with great pictures ready to go. What can I say? I am a perfectionist. Instead, I think I will share with you my process. I haven’t decided on the perfect drink, yet. I have some favorites, but it really isn’t about me. Instead, I thought I would let you choose which one I should keep working on.

A little background:

This drink is for a group of 40 beverage executives who would like to see their product used in our interpretation. The event will be smackdab in ‘Pumpkin Spice Everything’ season… so I want to capitalize on fall flavors but want to avoid pumpkin like the plague. Also, we are in the Florida Keys and there are certainly some distinct flavors here.

The Gin:

The Botanist really lends to its name. It capitalizes on the trend of using local ingredients and staying authentic to the region. Hence why I want to go that route in the flavors. It also has a very complex set of aromas. This limited run gin is made with 31 botanicals, 22 of which come from where it is made: Islay, Scotland.

At first I thought an infusion might be good, then I sipped it and realized that would be a waste of a wonderfully complex spirit. So then I thought, I will make one that is traditional and play around with two other versions.

The 1st drink:
We all know that classic drinks are making a comeback. Enter the Manhattan’s and Old Fashioned’s of the world. So I thought simply of a basil gimlet.
The Botanist Gin
Key Lime Juice
Simple Syrup

The 2nd drink:
Now I am going to some fall like flavors. I thought this drink could be a little sweet with some aromatics.
The Botanist Gin
Apricot Jam
Key Lime Juice
Angostura Bitters

The 3rd drink:
I looked around the restaurant and stumbled upon some currant jam. I though this could really be the wild card. Since I was using jam, I also wanted to add some spice to it. I am still not sure what that will be.
The Botanist Gin
Currant Jam
Florida Grapefruit Juice, maybe
Spice or Herb (maybe some all spice or even fried sage)

What do you think? Is there one in particular that you would want to try? Don’t be put off by the jam, I melt it down a little so that it mixes very well with the gin and other ingredients. I would love to hear your thoughts.

I know you are curious about the rehearsal dinner: it was a success. Just before the group arrived, I was graced with a beautiful sunset. While working at the bar earlier in the day, I may have made a new friend. I look forward to grabbing lunch with her. I much enjoyed her input as we worked together on the basil gimlet. My drive home was wonderful and full of great conversation. And now, I am home and all the love a home can have awaits… 

None of this has been perfect. There were struggles today, moments I could have napped standing, many drinks to try and some terrible versions, 3 plates that fell for that rehearsal dinner. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful day. 

So for now, Love Strangers. You never know if they might become a lifelong friend.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Learning, Dining, Loving.

I believe that I mentioned mentors yesterday, and that really made me keep thinking about a few individuals that I could certainly learn from. 

Here is the thing... I LOVE learning. I think it is an essential part of our existence and the meaning of life. Why do I always get philosophical?

Now, in the past there have been a few that have really been put off by my quest for knowledge. I am, at times, still a 3-year-old. I ask a million questions. I want to learn how, why, when, where things work and who most affects the outcome. It is a big part of the reason I love hospitality. There are so many inner workings that can make the service go well or go terribly. Every day is a completely different day. Today, for example, I planned for busy chaos. Sometimes, when you plan, it all comes together beautifully. We were busy, but far from chaotic. After a visit from Remy Martin, I am now preparing to create 2 new cocktails. One using The Botanist Gin and the other using Mount Gay Black Barrel. I can't wait to show you what I come up with.  As a reward I got this beautiful sunset. 

I have had 3 wonderful mentors in my life. These three men really made a difference in how I see the world. Among many things I learned from these gentlemen: one taught me to look for the unintended consequence, one taught me to take charge of my own development, and the other taught me to have confidence in myself. These gentlemen could have turned me away and told me to stop bothering them after the 50th question. Instead, they had patience and saw that I would stop at nothing to try to be perfect. But where have the female mentors been?

Sometimes, I wonder if we are harder on each other as women. A question for later. So, who would I like to learn from. There are two in particular that come to mind. Please, don't judge me.

First, Bethenny Frankel. Why? She has taken an industry that locked the gates, dropped the brick wall, added a moat, and lifted the steel bridge to keep women from entering the upper echelons: the beverage industry. She was turned away, shut down, and demeaned for her idea of pre-bottled cocktails. She did it herself anyway. There came Jim Beam, one of the biggest players in America, knocking on the door with its tail between its proverbial legs finally looking to get in on the action. 

Second, Ellen DeGeneres. No - I don't aspire to be a comedian or to host a slew of award shows. Although giving voice to a cartoon would be cool. It is because she defied all social norms. It was hard enough to be a woman in comedy, but to be a woman that isn't wearing heals and makeup... I can only imagine. To be brave enough to come out of the closet, knowing full well she would probably lose everything she had built, takes true courage. The kind of courage I hope I have if the time comes. I will add to that her ambitious desire for everyone to ‘be kind to one another’. I can’t imagine a better role model for my nieces and nephews.

I think my questions for them would be the same.... although I am not certain I could handle them both in the same room, too much funny within 4 walls. I would certainly also have to tie my hands and tape my mouth and have the questions written on cards so that I don't speak to excess and ask 80 questions.

  1. What is the most profound lesson you have learned in business that you feel keeps your business thriving?
  1. If you recall to the early years in business, what is one thing you would do differently?

But, let’s be honest, I would probably just ask them if I can be in the room as they work so I can learn firsthand.  

For now, I choose to enjoy lessons from those around me. Like the cook today who, after the rush, said he was bored. My reply, “I’m hungry. Do you want to create something?” His reply:

Baked Potato stuffed with cheddar, homemade cheese sauce, bacon,
onion straws, green onions and sour cream. No, I never said it was healthy. 

Today, I hope you all do what Leon did with his boredom. Create. I also hope you show some hospitality and Love Strangers.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Diversions... or... Creating?!?

Today I am thinking a lot about keeping time, completing pertinent tasks, making strides in business, and making sure to enjoy life. Time – that ever elusive, quantifiable, maddening factor that some would argue actually doesn’t exist. Always a philosophical question to get my brain going.

This morning I started my routine as usual: I awoke, meditated, set my intentions, spent some time thinking about how I would theoretically manage my time and projects, and set on with my day. I am driving to the Florida Keys and had a deadline by which I needed to be there. The difference with flying and driving:  control or the perception of control. When driving, if I am late it is essentially my fault. I easily could have left at 10am as opposed to my actual departure time of 2pm. With a flight, the pilot, maintenance crew, flight schedules have more control on that day than I do.

Well, I just pulled out my laptop while in the care because traffic is on a complete standstill. A semi-trailer has jack-knifed, stalling all of us on this two lane highway. I hope the driver is safe and heathy, as well as anyone involved. I send positive thoughts to my fellow travelers – that we all just take this moment to look at the beautiful sky, take a nap, converse with each other, or become productive in our work. Obviously, I am choosing the latter.  
Semi has taken over the road... But that sky!!!

I am grateful for the wonderful way in which I am learning this lesson about productivity. I mean, I could have chosen to soak up some vitamin D and sunbathe, or taken a nap. As I lineup the businesses I am starting, I realize there are at least 4-5 projects on which I need to work on continually to make them all work. I could choose to focus on one per month, but then they won’t gain momentum. Some of the tasks for them are simply that, and some are a creative process on which I can easily go down a fun rabbit hole, on my way towards Wonderland. It is easy to get caught up in Wonderland and forget about necessary Taskland. Today, my strategy is to complete 2 items from Taskland, followed by 1 in Wonderland. My hope is that will keep me looking forward to the adventure while also completing the mundane.

Since I am in my car, I don’t have a magical stove and oven to pull out and start cooking something for all the travelers who are enjoying this hiatus with me. It would be a wonderful way to create. Which is taking me into creative space of recipes that I could make – homemade sausages, pickled veggies, different ketchups and mustards. I think I just created a hot dog concept, in theory… See, rabbit hole. Maybe I should start packing such equipment, I am sure these travelers would enjoy a food break.
Sure, that's a lot of people NOT moving, but it sure is a GORGEOUS day! 

The biggest lesson learned, embrace the diversions and the moments that pop up to work and create.

Safe travels friends, and Love Stranger(s).