a thin place

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This is a first. I have never made up a cocktail before. It grew out of a conversation with a friend–over the poetry of Padraig O’Tuama, as I remember, and she said to me, “Why don’t you make up a cocktail called ‘A Thin Place’?”

I accepted the challenge.

A thin place is an image that comes from Celtic Christianity and has been described as “those rare locales where the distance between heaven and Earth collapses””those rare locales where the distance between heaven and Earth collapses,” “the places in the world where the walls are weak,”
and “where we can touch the edge of heaven.”

That’s a lot to ask of a cocktail.

The package store in our town carries an Irish Milk Gin (which means it is made from whey), and that seemed like a good place to start. You could also use your favorite gin. I had the idea for the green tea syrup as a way to lean into more of a zen vibe. Green Chartreuse is a liqueur that I have become familiar with in other drinks and the taste goes well with gin. It also has a light green color. The lime juice helps balance out the flavor.

(Note: If you haven’t made simple syrup before, it is simply mixing equal parts sugar and water and then bringing it to a simmer and letting it cook until the sugar dissolves and the syrup thickens a bit. For the green tea syrup, I used a cup each of water and sugar and added two green tea bags while it was simmering.)

Because her father and I are friends, I got in touch with Shelby Atkinson, who is an amazing bartender in San Diego, to double check my instincts and to get some help with ratios. Here is the final version.

A Thin Place

1.5 oz Irish Milk Gin
.5 oz Green Chartreuse
.5 oz Green Tea Syrup
.5 oz Lime Juice

Put four cubes in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and then add the ingredients. Shake well and pour into a martini glass. As you sip, here is one of O’Tuama’s poems to ponder.

The Pedagogy of Conflict

I
When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.
When I was a child
my parents said that sometimes,
lives are protected
by an undetected
light lie of
deception
When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.
Now, I am more than twenty five
and I’m alive
because I’ve lied
and I am lying still.
Sometimes,
it’s the only way of living.
 
II
When I was a child
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain
rules:
let your anger cool before you
blossom bruises on your brother’s shoulder;
always show your manners at the table;
always keep the rules and never question;
never mention certain things to certain people;
never doubt the reasons behind
legitimate aggression;
if you compromise or humanise
you must still even out the score;
and never open up the door.
Never open up the door.
Never, never, never open up the blasted door.
When I was a child,
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain rules.
Never open up the door.
 
III
When I was a child,
I learnt to count to five
one, two, three, four, five.
but these days, I’ve been counting lives, so I count
one life
one life
one life
one life
one life
because each time
is the first time
that that life
has been taken.
Legitimate Target
has sixteen letters
and one
long
abominable
space
between
two
dehumanising
words.

Peace,
Milton

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