Friday Musings: Finding Nuance

There are certain words in the English language that fascinate me. Cadence is one of them. I wrote an entire blog post about the particular and pleasing rhythm that certain people have when they speak or write. I suggested that I thought it was also possible for there to be cadence in life. I love the word somnambulism too, otherwise known as sleepwalking, and one of the words most likely to cause someone to lose in a spelling bee. I did not write a blog post about that one. Another all-time favorite is penultimate, or next to the last. When I was a junior in high school my English teacher criticized my penultimate paragraph in a research paper, which caused me to furiously search for a dictionary to find out what in God’s name she was saying to me. I’ve never forgotten it. Obviously. We could put these words together in a sentence: I am a somnambulist on the penultimate day of the week. I sleepwalk on Fridays. But I digress. My word for today is nuance, or the subtle difference or distinction we’re capable of perceiving between things. It’s most easily understood in terms of color, and its origin actually comes from the French word for shade or hue. Think about choosing a color of paint for the walls in your house. Isn’t it funny how the slightest variation can make us choose one over the other? Can we even explain why? I think we’d say we were just more captivated by #5124 Pebble Gray than we were by #5125 Dove Gray. It’s a matter of nuance.

What is it that captivates us about another person? I believe that the answer to that question is also a matter of nuance. Let’s say that we’re out one night and we meet someone that we really like. Maybe this happened last week or maybe it happened many years ago, but either way, this is how it goes. There may be twenty other people in the room, but the spotlight is suddenly on this person alone. We’re not even fully aware yet of why we like them so much, but we’re certain that we don’t want the night to end, and when it finally has to, we don’t want to leave without their number. It’s the big things that get us at first. They have great hair, or beautiful eyes, they smell amazing, they’re funny and smart, and they’re wearing a fabulous pair of shoes or boots. We notice how great the conversation is between us, and we’re aware of a connection that has us feeling emotionally energized. When the night finally comes to a close, and we’re leaving with their number (thank goodness!), and we’re still feeling all warm and fuzzy from the hug we exchanged, the only thing we can think about is whether they liked us too.

As time goes on and we see this certain someone again and again, and we become the real deal, we start to notice the nuances. We become aware of all the little things about this person that makes them completely different from everyone else, and that have us falling completely in love. It’s a certain way they tilt their head and their hair does a thing, or the way they say certain words, or a look that makes everyone else in the room disappear. It’s the way they can wear a certain shade of blue, or the way they hold open a door for us, or the way they smile and laugh so easily. And as much as we love how our conversations are growing deeper and more important, we now notice that we’re also comfortable in silence. These are things that no one else sees or knows. These are the things that we might not necessarily tell even our closest friends because we don’t want them to know and they’re only going to roll their eyes at us anyway. These are the nuances of this person and the love that’s developing between us.

Many people believe that relationships are built and strengthened on compatibility, and the alignment of values, or the way we react to one another in times of stress or crisis. While I certainly agree that these things are true, I think that it’s the subtle things that are ours alone to know that make us become so attached. Think about what you miss the most when your significant person is not sitting right next you. If you tell me that it’s the way they handle a crisis, I’m going to say I don’t believe you. Nuances are easy to lose over time, but they are are the very thing that we should be holding onto the most. When life becomes crazy and we feel like we don’t have a moment to breathe let alone think about the way a person’s hair catches the light, I’m here to tell you that I think doing exactly that may be the most important thing we can possibly do. It is indeed correct to say that the big components of a relationship are what give it strength and sustainability, but it’s the nuances that bring us everyday joy and that irreplaceable feeling of “wow, this person is mine.” They are easy to overlook as time goes on, but not if we make a conscious effort to seek them and treat them with the utmost of care. The rewards are immeasurable.

For today’s cocktail, I began with Plymouth gin, which has the most subtle and nuanced of flavors. So much so, in fact, that it’s actually the perfect place to start with if you are a person who is new to gin. I then added the equally underscored yet absolutely beautiful Etrog liqueur from Sukkah Hill Spirits. Their products are available online and are truly worth seeking out. Etrog has a subtle lemon and citrus blossom taste to me, and something slightly herbal, and both worked perfectly with a sake wine with similar flavors and a creamy, almost velvety texture. I added rosemary to my simple syrup to pull that green flavor forward just a bit, a dash of DRAM bitters to tie everything together. I topped the cocktail with an elderberry kombucha that’s brewed locally right here in Haddonfield at A Secret Garden. It added just a touch of effervescence and a delicate sweetness. The end result is a cocktail whose flavor and texture are so incredibly subtle that you might think they could go unnoticed, yet it’s exactly those nuances that draw us in and make it so wonderful. Just like in the best of relationships. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!

Finding Nuance

2 oz Plymouth gin
½ oz Sukkah Hill Spirits Etrog liqueur
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz rosemary simple syrup
1 oz Hakutsuru Junmai Ginjō sake
2 dashes DRAM Citrus Medica bitters
2 oz Pinecoast Elderberry kombucha to top

Add all the ingredients except the combust to a shaker tin with ice and shake until cold. Double strain into a memorable glass over cocktail ice. Top with the kombucha and stir. Garnish witha lemon peel. Enjoy!

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