This week’s newsletter is going to be very short. Because I’m tired and overworked and I’m writing this on Saturday night, just a little over 48 hour before Mercury stations direct, and as the planet of communication slows down, I find myself at a loss for words. So instead of serving suggestions this week, and because I like passing along good things, we’re going to have a little giveaway, instead.
Mercury has been retrograde since September 27th, and whether or not you “believe in that stuff,” October has been, for myself and many people I love, overwhelming, frustrating, and at times heartbreaking. I’ve been thinking a lot about comfort because of this, and how undervalued it is in our society. We’re supposed to have stiff upper lips. We’re supposed to push through. We’re supposed to get out of our comfort zone.
I don’t know about you, but I not only don’t need to get out of my comfort zone, I’d need a map to find it in the first place.
This week’s booze-free cocktail is made with Woodnose Sacré, a delicious and unusual digestif made from Vermont maple syrup. I usually roll my eyes at marketing speak, but when Woodnose describes Sacré as “mysteriously flavored,” it really is. They have somehow managed to retain the scent and flavor of maple syrup, but in a delicious non-alcoholic spirit that is tart, dry, and a little bitter, but not at all sweet. It’s not just mysterious, it’s sorcery. I’m giving away a full bottle of Woodnose Sacré, the key flavor in this week’s drink, to one reader. All you have to do is:
subscribe to 5PM Eternal, which you probably already have if you’re reading this, and
comment on this post and tell me what it is that comforts you. Whether it’s a favorite blanket, a specific friend, a movie, whatever, tell me what holds you when you’re in need of some softness.
Feel free to reply to other people and start a conversation— I’ll throw your name in a hat as many times as you reply (though I reserve the right to rule out posts that are just spam), and I’ll even start with my own list, so you can still enter if you don’t want to share your comfort strategies and just want to chat with other readers. The contest will close on October 24th, 2021, at 11:59 PM EST, and I’ll announce the winner on Instagram and contact you by email to get your mailing address and everything.
Tinmouth Tipple is named after a tiny town in Vermont. Tinmouth claims to be the only place on earth with this exact name, which seemed appropriate for a drink that centers a unique ingredient like Sacré. But lately the thing I long for, the thing I believe would be the most comforting, is getting out of this city and going somewhere forested in the middle of nowhere New England, and a town of little more than 600 seems like the perfect escape. Away from the grime and the traffic and the noise and the jerks who won’t wear masks crowding the subways. Away from the crowds, period. I’ve never craved the woods or small towns before COVID; I wanted art museums and theaters and nightclubs and people. Now, I never know whether or not the people I stand behind in the grocery store or pass on the street or sit near on the train will get me sick, or give me something I will carry to someone else, and after nearly 2 years, that we seems to have divided into two camps: those who are tired of wearing masks and are happy to roll the dice for other people without their consent, and those of us who just adapted because we give a shit. So this drink is the dream of pulling a Thoreau, the flavor of four trees that grow in Vermont in one glass. It’s cozy and autumnal and I hope you’ll find it comforting, too.
Apple cider seemed like the obvious choice to blend with maple, and to add some sweetness to counter the tart, balsamic vinegar note in Sacré. It tasted good, but the drink still needed something deeper and woodier to smooth the sour edges. A little pure maple syrup reduced the pucker factor, but I wanted to add some more complimentary flavors. Since I was on an arboreal path already, I decided to throw in some oaky Spiritless Kentucky 74 zero-proof bourbon that I had on hand. I’m hesitant to recommend it, even though it’s the most “real” tasting of the non-alcoholic whiskeys I’ve tried, because they are constantly out of stock, but you can currently purchase it from The Zero Proof, No & Low, Boisson, and Better Rhodes. You could also use a different non-alcoholic whiskey with similar results, and you can find some more of my recommendations over at Food52.
The combination of Sacré, Kentucky 74, maple syrup, and apple cider makes for a pretty good cocktail on its own, but the addition of Bad Dog Sarsaparilla Dry Bitters softens the drink with the round, herbal wintergreen taste of birch oil that really makes it taste like a forest. As always, a few drops of alcohol based bitters will not increase the alcohol content of this drink high enough to lead to intoxication (or anything close to what’s in your standard glass of orange juice), even if you drink half a dozen of them, but for some people in recovery, having bitters at home or using them in a drink may be triggering. Please use your discretion, and speak with a doctor, therapist, and/or your sponsor if you have even the tiniest concern about this.
RECIPE: Tinmouth Tipple
2 ounces Spiritless Kentucky 74
1 ounce Woodnose Sacré
½ ounce pure maple syrup (NOT pancake syrup or syrup blend!)
4 ounces unfiltered apple cider (not apple juice)
2-4 dashes Bad Dog Dry Sarsaparilla Bitters
apple slice to garnish
Pour Kentucky 74, Sacré, maple syrup, apple cider, and bitters into a cocktail shaker.
Stir with bar spoon for about a minute until well mixed and chilled.
Pour into old fashioned glass.
Top with apple slice.
Until next week, keep your comforts close and zero proof, and good luck when Mercury stations direct on Monday!
Brewing tea on a rainy day, with all the sensory variations of water: rain hitting the ground; the sloshing of passing cars muffled by puddles, so that every road’s a river; the kettle’s rising bubble. Watching cartoons, reading webcomics, reading a book that came out years ago that no one expects an opinion on.
My source of comfort is my rescue dog, Murphy. He came to me in 2020 after my oldest friend and my dachshund, Otto, died 3 weeks apart and Covid came shortly afterward. He is warm, amazingly friendly and as cute as any dog can be! He has introduced me to my neighbors in a way that 30 yesrs of living here didn't do. Love that Murphy!