A mural by Nicole Hayden graces the exterior of Moby Dick. (Courtesy Topher Olson)

Keeping spirits up in a time of international crisis

Since beginning this column, I’ve joked a lot about how much my life feels like Carrie Bradshaw’s: a single woman in her 30s, living in rent control, sipping cocktails, walking around The City in bedazzled footwear and trendy cocktail dresses, and writing it all down for everyone.

That show didn’t age well, but I wanted that life for a long time when I was younger, and for a brief moment before the pandemic, I had it. Then coronavirus forced us indoors, and with the death of George Floyd and ensuing riots, our world got even darker this past week. I quipped, morbidly, about what my next column would be with an editor:

“As I stood outside my favorite boarded-up dive bar, sipping my dirty martini through a straw that I’d slipped under my face mask, I couldn’t help but wonder…” I said.

She finished: “When you’re under martial law, are you also under marital law?”

There is very little funny about my world today. I live in isolation. My normally quiet neighborhood is understandably tense. My friends are more often just as much a mess as I am, and I look online and find nothing but anger. I don’t begrudge it.

I want to identify with the situation in ways as a gay person and a Jew, but I am also a white man. As such, I’ve been bluntly told several times in recent years to keep my opinion to myself, and I understand. I was born with privilege, and my perception is shaped by it. It felt so weird this week, though, to write a fluffy feature about spirits and just ignore what’s been happening. So I’ll say here that the death of George Floyd is horrible, and I stand angered alongside my friends of color and everyone else understandably upset by it.

I’ve also never in life had more to express as an artist, and I’m inspired by colleagues in a similar boat. We’ve all by now probably seen the beautiful murals painted across closed businesses. Many — although not al l— have been orchestrated by a local project Paint the Void, which says on its website: “Our iconic streets are beginning to look like a post-apocalyptic hellscape. As we dwell in this liminal situation, we’ve realized that people need work and purpose.”

I asked some bars to whip up cocktails that complement the paintings on their buildings. One said they were down a lot of staff, and several had bartenders attending recent protests. But two bartenders did mix up something I hope might bring you a little joy. They had few requirements, except I asked that they keep the mural in mind and serve their cocktails up, where I hope to bring your spirits, too.

Matt Picon

Bar Manager, Moby Dick (4049 18th St.)

Donate to the GoFundMe here.

Mural art by Nicole Hayden

Matt Picon, bar manager of Moby Dick, created the rosemary garnished Clam Jam. (Courtesy photo)

Clam Jam

2 ounces Tequila Reposado

1 ounce Cointreau

1 ounce white cranberry peach juice

1 teaspoon mango jam

Shake vigorously and pour. Top with half an ounce of soda water, and garnish with slapped rosemary.

Jordan Herren created the mural at Badlands. (Courtesy Topher Olson)

David Facer

Bartender, Badlands (4121 18th St.)

Facer requests donating to a co-worker’s GoFundMe here.

Mural art by Jordan Herren

David Facer calls Chai & Stop Me an “intoxicating melange of spices.” (Courtesy photo)

Chai & Stop Me!

2 ounces Stoli vanilla vodka

1 ounce Bayou Spiced Rum

1 ounce Bailey’s

1/4 ounce Fireball

Ground nutmeg

2 cinnamon sticks

Ground cinnamon

In shaker, add all ingredients except the ground cinnamon. Add ice and shake. Strain up into glass, add sticks from shaker to garnish, and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Serve chilled.

Said Facer: “Chai & Stop Me is an intoxicating melange of spices — an aromatic tingle complements the robust flavor as you sip this indulgent martini slowly. As its name suggests, it doesn’t hold back and commands your palate’s attention. It’s a true representation of our Castro community, a community plagued with prejudice, discrimination, and racism. To our adversary we say, ‘Try and stop me!’”

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