Wednesday morning, I got in a rental car and drove from Montreal (where I live) to New York City, having recently decided to dip my toe in the waters of societal reintegration. It’s been 17 months since I left Montreal. That’s 75 weeks. That’s 527 days. That’s 45,499,949 seconds of not doing what I used to do with great regularity: Travel.
As someone whose primary mode of coping with life is to…oh, you know, just leave, this would have seemed impossible to me before the Quar. But I took lockdown seriously and earnestly, and fortunately, thanks to my second primary mode of coping with life — reclusive and avoidant complacency — staying inside hasn’t been all that bad.
The drive itself was familiar and comfortably uneventful — even downright enjoyable. Few things encapsulate freedom for me like a car with a full tank, an open road, and a playlist ready to be blared. (This might be the most American thing about me.) I felt encouraged by this literal and metaphorical road devoid of bumps and ditches. Maybe the re-entrance into civilisation wouldn’t be so daunting after all. Maybe it’d be just like riding a bike (or um, driving a car).
Oh, sweet optimism, why do I bother with you? As soon as I entered the parking garage and began the winding descent into the inferno that is the Avis car drop-off lot, I realised I was wrong.
So now I’m in New York, like a creature that’s just hatched and is trying to take its first tentative steps into a world that is chaotic and overbearing. Or like Ice Age Brendan Frasier when he thaws out in Blast From the Past. Was New York always this loud? This hectic? This hot? Were lights always this bright? Were footpaths always this crowded? It’s a steroid blur of sensory immersion, like trying to board a train as it speeds by.
The answer of course, is yes — NYC has always been this way, but right now, I feel like I didn’t just dip a toe, I unwittingly plunged myself into the deep end.
I promptly checked into my hotel room and haven’t left since. I wouldn’t normally prescribe a cocktail as a means of liquid courage, but for my intents and purposes, I could really use a Bin & Gitters right now. It’s easy to make, refreshing as hell, and has just the right amount of booze to help soothe the deluge.
For the Bin & Gitters you will need:
- 30 ml lime juice
- 15 ml simple syrup
- 60 ml gin
- Generous dashes of Angostura
Put the lime juice, simple syrup and gin into a tumbler, and give it a good swirl to incorporate the ingredients. Fill a glass with crushed ice, and strain a quarter of the lime-and-syrup-and-gin mixture into it, then tamp down the ice with the bottom of the tumbler. (The liquid will melt the ice a bit, creating more room in the glass for you to achieve maximum crushed ice capacity.) Add more ice and strain the rest of the liquid into the ice-filled glass. Add the Angostura, which will create a float — use as much as you’d like…I like a lot — and then top with more crushed ice. Take a deep breath, and a long sip. Exhale. Enjoy. It’ll all be ok. ( Probably. )