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A table for one?
The art of solo dining, the horror of food, Sweden's female oyster diver, cocktail recipes, the Tulum retreat and more!
Welcome back to another edition of Drink Seco! Hope you have all been having a joyous Pride Month.
Kate and I have made it to Tulum and are settling into the heat. I’ve enrolled in some more advanced Spanish classes which are keeping me quite busy!
Tulum is going through a lot of changes, and has been for the past 10 years or so, and arguments could be made on the effect on the city in both positively and negatively.
Still, I find the people to be generous and kind, the street food to be accessible and delicious, and if you know where to look, the city is still very affordable coming from the United States.
More on Tulum next week! I’ll share my favorite spots, bars, and restaurants!
This week we tackle the horrors of food whether that’s fears of solo dining or recipes of horror movies. Similarly, like many before we’re willing to take a risk for it, whether it's leaving your job, or going out alone. Here’s what’s lined up for this newsletter:
Table for one
The Goldilocks Dilemma of solo dining
Sweden’s Oyster Diving Queen
Sweet, strong, and bitter
End of Pride Month album and wine pairing
Table for one:
I was recently talking to some of my friends who said that they would never go out to dinner alone for their own enjoyment. These are women who are intelligent, confident, independent, and successful. I was shocked. Taking myself out to a bar or restaurant is one of my favorite activities and self-care treats.
Solo dining has risen dramatically in recent years, and the internet is full of ‘solo date night’ inspo, so then why is it that some of the powerful women around me hate the idea of being seen eating alone. Further, what are the restaurant/bar conditions that make or break the solo dining experience?
Unlike so many other social activities (going to the movies, concerts, galleries, playing sports, traveling, etc.) solo dining still has a bit of a stigma, especially for women. I am sick of my wonderful friend’s fears of “it being awkward” “people thinking I’m lonely” “I will be lonely”, or it being seen as “wanting to be chatted up”. “But what do you do?!” friends have asked, sometimes I bring a book or journal, maybe a podcast, or it can be a great chance just to sit with no distractions (a radical idea in today’s society). If you’re feeling social, sit at the bar! Us bartenders are always (well, almost always) up for a chat, or better still I’ve made some lifelong friends chatting with the people next to me. Another of my favorite past-times, eavesdropping and people-watching, it never disappoints!
We spend so little time alone with ourselves I get it can be scary to do it in a public space, but it also makes it that much more powerful. It’s a great opportunity to check in with yourself, relax, enjoy your own company, or try out that new restaurant without having to wait months for everyone’s schedules to align. I’m not saying that everyone has to enjoy eating out alone, but I do think it’s interesting to ask yourself why you wouldn’t.
Nancy Scherl a photographer, released a book of photographs spanning decades of strangers dining alone called Dining Alone: In the Company of Solitude, a really beautiful collection of these moments, but they also drive the solitude, and sometimes uncomfortability that comes with being alone with yourself.
The Goldilocks dilemma of solo dining:
This leads me to the next part of solo dining, where’s the perfect place to go? Goldilocks, (infamous solo diner) encapsulated this struggle, the chairs weren’t comfortable, the porridge servings weren’t right, the vibes were off, and it’s hard to find something “just right”. Finding a place to eat alone can present similar struggles. Why is this all sharing food? Do I sit at the bar? At a table in the corner? In a booth? Is it too noisy? Too quiet? Do the waitstaff keep giving me pitying smiles? Do I have to talk to them?
Countries like Japan have long catered to solo diners, creating restaurants with partitioned booths. But there are other ways to do it too, bar seating, communal tables, small tables, and smaller food portions (I’d say not being able to try as much food is often the only downside to solo dining). Once again, listening bars solo would be such a cool experience. To be fair you can dine alone anywhere, but the design and the intimacy of the venue definitely lend a hand. I usually prefer going to smaller, quieter, restaurants/wine bars but hey whatever works for you. Solo dining is on the rise, especially post-pandemic, so restaurants and bars are going to have to think about how they’ll incorporate solo diners into their design of spaces.
Throughout history and generations of storytelling, food has led people into danger, or used as deception, think Adam and Eve biting the apple, Hansel and Gretel following breadcrumbs into a dark forest, Goldilocks breaking into a bear’s house, Titus Andronicus serving pie made out of Tamora’s sons, Mary Maloney’s murder (and covering up) of her husband.
“Food, in other words, is full of death and violence — fruit, once off the vine, will rot; animals don’t march happily to their slaughter. Ultimately, food horror is body horror, a reminder that we too are animals that consume and will ultimately be consumed, one way or another.”
A24’s cookbook embraces these contradictions joining food and horror to create recipes inspired by horror films. Dumplings from Audition, Shepard’s pie from Eve’s Bayou, Lamb chops in jelly from Midsommar, and A fungi feast from Matango. Practicality is hardly the point, the cookbook is full of beautiful photography, essays, recipes, and spooky shit. For all the horror lovers, this one is for you.
One of the writers who has an essay in Horror Caviar is the incredible Carmen Maria Machado. Given this connection and of course, the fact we’re still in Pride Month I thought I’d share an amazing book recommendation!
Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House.
I was completely and utterly blown away by this book. It is in part a memoir (although it’s such an exciting use of form, blurring genre binaries) about Carmen’s former relationship with her abusive girlfriend.
It’s been a while since I read a book that made me squeal with excitement about how exquisitely it’s written. It’s such a beautiful and important book. Abuse in queer relationships is often ignored academically, socially, and statistically, Machado’s innovative book explores her story discussing broader societal implications, queerness, sexuality, violence, and culture. Interspersed in the text are footnotes to Folk-Literature Tropes (brilliant) and quotes from texts spanning decades and pop culture references.
Anyways, before we get back to cocktail programming, if you read one book this year, make sure it’s this.
Sweden’s Oyster Diving Queen:
You all know how much I love Oysters, so when I saw this story I couldn’t not share it.
Lotta Klemming used to work for H&M globally opening stores and for several years in the fashion industry, now she is one of a handful of Sweden’s female oyster divers. Klemming realized that her work was not fulfilling and came home and began working for her family’s oyster diving business.
She collects all the oysters by hand, oyster by oyster, no machines are allowed, picking up to 700 oysters a day. Now she calls her work and being in the ocean “heaven” and openly discusses how it has “saved [her] life”.
She also organizes oyster safaris for people to catch, learn, and eat their oysters! Next holiday idea?
Sweet, strong, and bitter:
I found this nice graphic by Cara Devine of the triangular base that has underpinned cocktail creativity for years and how it plays out for three of my favorite cocktails, the negroni, the whiskey sour, and the Hemingway daiquiri. Some cocktails lean heavier one way than the other but I figured it had been a while since I shared some cocktail theory. Understanding this framework helps you to understand how to make and create your own cocktails!
So with saying that, here are three fun cocktail recipes to play around with that showcase this! (Courtesy of The Australian Bartender)
Corpse Reviver No. 2
‘Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again’.
20 ml gin
20 ml Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc1
20 ml curaçao or other orange liqueur
20 ml fresh lemon juice
Absinthe, to rinse
Garnish: lemon zest twist
Glassware: coupe or martini
Add all the ingredients, except the absinthe, to your shaker tin. Fill with ice and shake hard! Spritz your chilled coupe with absinthe and double strain the cocktail into the glass. Fold your twist over the top to expel the oils, then use as a garnish.
The Alexander is a Grandfather cocktail, having been around since the 1910s!
30 ml (1 oz) gin or brandy
15 ml (½ oz) crème de cacao
15 ml (½ oz) coffee liqueur
30 ml (1 oz) cream
Garnish: grated nutmeg
Add all the ingredients to your shaker tin, add ice and shake hard – you want to make it nice and airy. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass and grate nutmeg on top using a microplane.
This is Tarder Vic’s 1944 recipe!
60 ml aged rum
25 ml fresh lime juice
15 ml curaçao
10 ml orgeat
5–10 ml (1/6–? oz) rich demerara sugar syrup
Garnish: mint sprig and lime husk
Glassware: novelty or rocks
Add everything to your shaker tin, add ice and shake. ‘Dump’ the contents of your shaker tin into your glass – i.e., you don’t have to strain. Add more ice if necessary to fill the glass and garnish, arranging your lime husk and mint sprig to look like a desert island and a palm tree – cute!
An album and wine paring to round off Pride Month!
Hope you’ve all had a joyful, loving, supportive, Pride Month! I thought I’d end the newsletter and finish Pride Month with another album and wine pairing. Rest and replenish people!
So much of Pride Month is about celebrating being queer simultaneously acknowledging that if the world is going to change in the way it needs to, it is very important for this revolution to be based on and doesn't lose sight of queer joy. Therefore, the album I would like to recommend to round off Pride Month that encapsulates that, and also just celebrated its 1st anniversary the other day, MUNA by Muna! Love these guys, (also love their podcast Gayotic) but such fun music on this record!
A fun wine paring:
To match the fun record, here’s an equally fun wine pairing for you to sip while you dance along to Muna’s album.
2016 Giuseppe Rinaldi Langhe Nebbiolo
Carlotta Rinaldi joined her family business officially in 2015 and unlike her father’s style of winemaking- that of high tannin and austerity, she prefers to develop a bit more grace and sensitivity in her wines. While both styles of Nebbiolo are welcomed in our home, I paired this wine with this album for its velvety texture and complexity.
That’s all for this week folks! Hope you enjoyed reading, have a wonderful weekend! I’ll leave you with this artistic masterpiece: