• Dan Green

Sailing to Nowhere - A Cocktail Tribute to Broken Bells

I had this drink lined up to post at the end of the week but I just couldn't help myself and decided to write it up now. Recipe first, story later.

Sailing to Nowhere

1 oz. - Old Tom Gin (Eight Oaks)

0.5 oz. - Rum (Eight Oaks)

0.5 oz. - Pisco (Barsol - Mosto Verde)

0.5 oz. - Falernum (John D. Taylor's)

0.5 oz. - Lemon Juice

4 dashes - Bittermen's Elemakule Tiki Bitters

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake for a good 10 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over ice - I used a bed of butterfly pea flower tea/lemon juice ice (crushed) and a clear ice sphere to give it a sort-of planetary look. Garnish with a lemon peel. Enjoy.

I don't know what music is to you but, for me, over the course of my lifetime, it has been everything. It's been an escape, something to lose myself in, something to pass the time, a cause to get behind, a therapist, an outlet, inspiration and sometimes it has even changed my life..or at least my perspective.

Broken Bells' self-titled album.

In 2010, right before I turned 19, a band called Broken Bells (members of The Shins and Gnarls Barkley) released a self-titled album at the exact time I needed them to. I was fresh out of high school, attending a local community college and confronted with a few forks in the road..typical coming of age, "welcome-to-the-real-world," realizations. But it was overwhelming. I was having panic attacks left and right, trying to come to terms with my own mortality and what to do with my life until it all inevitably comes to an end. I've always used music as a crutch to get through things but I was in a funk with a head loaded with heavy, heavy thoughts and nothing I was listening to at the time seemed to help like it used to. Then I heard the a song called "The High Road," from Broken Bells and I completely latched on to it. It contained something sad in the melody I related to with a pulsing rhythm that kept me moving and looking forward, lyrics that seemed to reflect so much of what I was feeling - it felt like this song was tailored to me. I downloaded the two songs that were available at the time (the other song being "Vaporize") put them on my iPod and took a walk into town for a performance of the play "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot." My friend from college was doing the sound or the lighting or both at a small, black box theater called Insomniak Theatre Co. and had invited me to check it out (sadly, Insomniak closed a while ago). I walked there listening to "The High Road" and walked back home in the cool, dark evening listening to "Vaporize." The songs seemed to fit with everything I was feeling; my thoughts, my mood, the physical atmosphere of my town that night, the breeze that I felt on my skin, everything was in sync. And on top of that, the production that I went to see played directly into the thoughts that were consuming me - the play was essentially a legal battle over what would happen to the eternal soul of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who killed himself after giving up Jesus' whereabouts to the authorities; not that my plight was that serious, I was fixated more on the theme of what happens to a soul. Anyway, before I get even more morbid, the point is, the thing that eventually ushered me to a peaceful mindset was this album by Broken Bells. I associate this album with my coming of age, maturing, questioning everything about our existence and a transition from a kid into whatever it is I am today. So, because of how much that meant to me, I figured the least I could do was come up with a drink to pay tribute to the band that changed my life.

"Activated" Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Ice

I had this drink on my list of ideas to dig into at some point but I wasn't sure where to begin...until I started messing around with butterfly pea flower tea (I talked about this color changing tea in a previous recipe called the Salacia Sunset). So, basically, this tea starts out as a dark blue liquid but if you change the pH balance by adding citrus juice, it changes color to a bright pink. I was playing around with this stuff, freezing it into ice cubes, cracking it and using it in drinks when one day I used a batch of "activated" pink tea ice. I started cracking it and thought that it looked like a weird crystal..and it actually reminded me of this death-star-looking spaceship used on the cover of Broken Bells' self-titled album. The puzzle pieces started falling into place and I began to play around with ingredients. I struggled with finding a balance for a bit, using a little bit of this and a little bit of that until it started to resemble a tiki drink (which are notorious for their lengthy ingredient lists), so the next logical step in my head was to try out Bittermen's Tiki bitters. I threw a few dashes of that stuff in there (which has the type of spicy scent reminiscent of a cola or a Dr. Pepper even) and it worked. You start out with the piercing nature of the lemon and gin but then you begin to taste the full-bodied flavors of the pisco and rum and you end with the cinnamon-y/spicy flavors of the falernum and bitters. It's an interesting evolution and I'm quite fond of this one.

I doubt this drink will change anyone's life but it's my tribute to a band that changed mine. If you try this drink out, please let me know. I'll provide some links to where you can get your hands on the bitters and the music of Broken Bells. Thanks for reading!

Bitters -

Broken Bells -

P.s. I don't mean to sound preachy but I talked a little about my struggles with mental health so I feel I should mention that there's no replacement for a good therapist. Music is a great help when it comes to healing but most of my progress in dealing with my issues came from the help of a professional. Also, I feel like I should mention that booze isn't a good method of coping either, I make these drinks for fun, I don't know what it's like to have a dependency of any kind but if you find yourself in that type of situation, it's best to reach out for help. Life's a beast sometimes and we weren't built to do it alone.

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