Recently I watched a truly informative little video that’s currently circulating on Facebook about how to take great photos with an iPhone camera. Most of us take pictures up at eye level and although the results are pleasant enough, they’re never really anything all that interesting. According to the friendly gentleman in the video who has a pleasant accent that I can’t quite identify, what we need to do is drop down and take the photo from an upward angle. Wowsers. Suddenly we’re in the running for a job with National Geographic. I know a thing or two about what he’s saying since I spend a good number of hours each week taking pictures of cocktails. Sometimes a minor adjustment this way or that way can make all the difference in the world, and I probably couldn’t even say why I made the change that I did. I’ve learned to instinctively shift my perspective and to trust the process by which that shift happens.
The idea of perspective in art is relatively easy to define: it is a technique used to create three dimensions that show depth and space on a two dimensional surface like a flat piece of paper. Learning how to employ perspective, however, is not as simple. It is, in fact, one of the hardest things for an art student to learn. One of the reasons why it’s so difficult is that our brain imposes its own truth on what our eyes see, and breaking established patterns of thinking does not happen easily. Consider the fact that we know that the earth spinning on its axis is the reason why we have night and day, yet our minds insist on perceiving that cycle as the sun rising and setting. That’s a perspective that is simply not going to change anytime soon. We all have personal patterns or ways of regarding situations that can be equally resistant when we try to shift them. I wonder if all that’s required is something as basic as what our photographer friend suggested. Maybe we just need to alter the angle at which we look at things.
When I was with Nora this past Tuesday I had an opportunity to give this idea a try. At 15 months, she is right on the edge of being able to fully communicate, but sometimes it can be challenging to understand what she’s trying so hard to tell me. Instead of remaining standing like I usually do, I dropped down on my knees and looked her right in the eye while she talked to me. Something about listening to her this way “softened my gaze” to borrow a term from yoga, and I felt much more open to understanding her on an intuitive level rather than imposing my own thoughts on what she was trying to say. This makes complete sense though, right? Think about the times when we are listening to someone we love tell us something difficult. If we turn toward them and look them in the eye, we find an openness that allows us to let go of the thoughts our minds are imposing on the conversation. Suddenly we are ready to listen with our hearts rather than just with our heads.
I love the idea of there being a softening that occurs when we allow ourselves to be fully present in any given moment. How wonderful would it be if we were to seek this same intuitive approach when we deal with the internal conversations we all carry on with ourselves on a daily basis? I’ve said many times before in many different ways that it’s our hearts that do all the dreaming. Think of that moment when you first wake up in the morning and the first thing you feel is pure emotion. Maybe you were dreaming of something, or someone, or some change that you’d give anything to turn into a reality. What happens next? Your mind arrives on the scene like some kind of crossing guard on steroids, arms waving wildly and orange safety vest flapping in the wind, reminding you that you have a day ahead and there’s going to be no putting the alarm on snooze. Let’s just stay the course and get the job done. But what if we allow ourselves a few extra minutes to consider those dreams with our gazes softened and turned inward? Is it possible that in that stillness we could could find a way to change our perspective? Who or what do you think of in that moment right before you open your eyes? Is that person or situation a part of your life? If the answer is yes, then take a moment to let gratitude pour out of your heart. If it’s no, then it’s time to give your dream a voice, even if it begins as only a whisper.
For today’s drink, I’d been dreaming of building something around carrot juice, an ingredient that has worked for me in variations of a Bloody Mary and a Penicillin, but never in a cocktail served up in a coupe glass. Could I shift my perspective enough to make it happen? I began by looking for a base spirit that would allow the carrot juice to maintain its presence in the drink, but also provide its own subtle flavor. An habanero infused vodka from Hanson was absolutely perfect. From there, I added a pumpkin cordial that had just a bit of fall spice, and a turmeric tonic that brought in a savory component that worked very well with the carrot juice. I made a fennel simple syrup with the same thought in mind, and then splashed in a bar spoon of lemon juice to brighten things up. A dash of Jack Rudy aromatic bitters pulled the fall spices to the front a bit more and tied everything together. And there was my dream come true: a carrot based drink served up in a cocktail glass with fall spices and a subtle kick from the habanero vodka. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
2 oz Hanson Habanero vodka
½ oz Pumpkin King cordial
1 oz Lakewood Organic carrot juice
½ oz Goldthread Turmeric Radiance tonic
¾ oz fennel simple syrup (1:1 ratio, add fennel fronds and allow to steep until cool)
1 barspoon lemon juice
1 dash Jack Rudy aromatic bitters
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a fennel frond. Enjoy!