Love is a funny, head-scratcher of a thing. It is a big something that is, in actuality, made up of absolutely nothing. Or, at least, nothing physically tangible. Whatever you associate with it – hearts, hugs, sex, Champagne, money, puppies, shared umbrellas, Whitman’s Samplers, homemade afghans, a ride from the airport, a ring on your finger — it has no molecules or shape or smell or form. And yet it is one of the most (maybe the most?) powerful forces human kind has in its arsenal. It makes even the most even-keeled behave in all sorts of kooky, outlandish ways, and, at its best, provides the kind of heart-pounding courage to do and say things our normal work-a-day selves might not have the chutzpah to purport.
With Valentine’s just last weekend, I’ve been thinking a little bit about what makes people’s hearts beat faster. And while it might sound a little odd, I think distilling is love. Or, I think opening your own distillery against all odds and abandoning a very good job and a very nice apartment to move back in with your folks in order to make your heart’s desire flourish? Now that’s love. And that’s Brigit Firtle.
Firtle’s distilling company, The Noble Experiment, was named, as Firtle tells it, as a wink at that most hilariously misguided moment in history, Prohibition. But it also was this Brooklyn native’s promise to herself — that she would give this crazy idea a try and put into it every sincere bit of energy, strength, and commitment she has in her.
If you want to see some of that incredible passion, head over to her Williamsburg distillery at 23 Meadow Street for a tour and a tasting, which happens every Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Or check out the short, beautifully filmed sequence on her website, which shows not just the distillery and some of the steps, but tells a bit of her Brooklyn family story, too.
I love that when I asked Firtle for a cocktail, without hesitation (and with exclamation points) she picked a classic Daiquiri to represent her. To me, there is no more romantic cocktail than this. In the deep cold of February — that longest shortest month of the year when we are clobbered by cold and all quite ready to stick a fork in the frozen ground — this citrusy, heady drink is warmth and palm-tree romance in a glass, not to mention a little lime slice of Cuban history (or, at least, what we might know of it — the drink apparently was born of that little isle in the late nineteenth century). Says Firtle: “I chose this because Owney’s makes the best Daiquiri in the world; because rum, lime and sugar is the holy trinity, and because a Daiquiri is one of the oldest and most classic cocktails in existence.” Aint love grand?
2 oz Owney’s Rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz simple syrup
Fill shaker with ice and all of the ingredients. Shake vigorously and double strain into a coupe glass. Serve up with lime wheel garnish.