Shaken & Stirred: The Spring Petal—In Praise of Manners (Well, Most of the Time)

by Michael Cecconi

Manners. Maketh. Us. Bearable. 

What keeps us together? What tenuous fabric restrains my primordial urge to bash you in the head and take over your cave and its sweet drawings?

If the pathetic record that the death penalty has as a deterrent is any indication, it is not fear of laws that keep us in line. I think it is a law that governs our actions, but it is a law passed down not by the courts and legislators, but by our parents and enforced by society. It is manners of which I speak. Manners are evolving (or dying, depending on whom you ask), but I like to look to that paradigm of politeness who with each movie fights against the unwashed masses and stakes out a beachhead of culture: Wes Anderson.

MGustave1

Gustave from The Grand Budapest Hotel has the correct balance of manners: an appreciation of the finer things in life, a sense of decorum that allows one and all to come and play at this farce we call civilization, and finally, a respect for people that embiggens all who prove themselves worthy (and as far as I can see, you are worthy by default).

MGustave2There is a glorious flexibility to manners that M. Gustave displays to great affect while he is (wrongly) imprisoned. This effete dandy finds a position in the prison social structure by standing up for himself … establishing dominance using fisticuffs against one Pinky Bandinski. After this unfortunate first impression, the two later become fast friends, united in the otherworldly social decorum that is life behind bars. Would that I had enough wherewithal to take on new and challenging social situations, but a children’s birthday party has been known to bring me to my knees.

MGustave3A proper conversation can be the cornerstone of a civilized society. Those who bemoan inauthentic discourse tend to live in dorms and are totally acing Philosophy 101. For those of us facing different challenges than those cruising through their college years, I think we wish only to hear and be heard. At the bar this amounts to one thing and one thing only: put the phone down and talk to me. I realize I sound like a neglected spouse, but things are getting dire these days. We have been sold a bill of goods (that digital connections are the best connections) that just isn’t amounting to a hill of beans. And it is the scene where M. Gustave apologizes to Zero that highlights the power of manners: To hear the person in front of you, see them to the best of your capacity, and acknowledge that. It’s a rare treat that we should all try, as I do with every customer. And contrary to the words of Yoda, my life seems to have a whole lot of trying bundled in with the do and the do not.

LimesSo what else do manners afford us? Second chances. For to judge someone solely on their lack of manners is in itself an expression of a lack of manners. And as I invariably fall short in displaying manners, as I quickly rattle off some speech I’ve told a million times as someone orders a vodka cocktail, I ask for that second chance. We can all be the better for giving and accepting such a treasure. Let us all put down our false sense of empowerment that is Yelp, let us all use language in life and online that reflects how we would like to be treated, not how naughty we can be behind the anonymity and distance of the comments section of any website, and let’s try to build something. Let’s build rapport, a moment of connection, a time shared to be remembered fondly, and a good cocktail.

MintI am as guilty as the next for deplorable manners. In my defense I do default to bad manners in the presence of good company, good food, or good drink. When something truly delectable falls into my mouth (or my ear in the case of good conversation), the ends (yummy) override the means (good manners, utensils, avoiding having what you are doing described as ‘shoveling’). So that you, too, can join me in manner-less hedonism, I give you the Spring Petal. I know that I missed the Vernal Equinox a bit, but this cocktail will delight well into summer. It uses fresh mint, dried lavender, Crème de Violette, pink pepper, and the inherent botanicals of gin to make a complex evocation of the season. Consider the lily gilded.

Enjoy in good company and don’t forget your pleases and thank yous. And thank you, by the way. Without you, my work is for naught.

SpringPetalSpring Petal

  • Rocks glass
  • 2 oz London Dry Gin
  • 1 oz fresh lime
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • ½ oz Crème De Violette
  • 4-6 mint leaves
  • 1 pinch dried lavender flowers

Garnish:

  • Spice-rimmed glass*
  • 1 edible flower (sprinkled with a pinch of spice)

Add gin, lime juice, simple syrup, Crème de Violette, mint, and lavender to mixing tin. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain from pint glass using a julep strainer into ice-filled, spice-rimmed rocks glass.

*Spice mixture (measurements by volume):

  • 1 oz pink peppercorns
  • 1 oz kosher salt
  • 4 oz sugar

Coarse grind pink peppercorns in spice grinder.

Add salt and sugar, mix thoroughly.

When spicing a rim, simple syrup works as the best adhesive. Cover the bottom of a small plate with syrup, dip the glass rim in the syrup, and then dip into spice mixture. Shake lightly to remove loose spice.

When putting spice on a rim, as in margarita and Sidecar, cover only half the rim … give your guest the option. But, when you make a spice rim that is intrinsic to the drink experience, go ahead and coat the whole rim.

Horizontal RuleMichaelCecconiMichael likes all things drink related. Michael likes movies. And, in an odd twist of fate, Michael loves words about movies. These three facts combine to make a perfect storm of sensibility, ability, and inebriation needed to fulfill duties at EatDrinkFilms. When not rhapsodizing about film, Michael tends the bar at Two Sisters Bar & Books in San Francisco. He teaches mixology in San Francisco and New York. And lately, he’s been trying to capture the magic of what he does in a bottle so he can spread his tasty libations across the land. Please feel free to contact him at themobilemixologist@gmail.com with all queries.

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