Thursday, December 13, 2018

Astro-Punch: The Theory

And now for a bit of a lark or parlor game and some non-holiday holiday season FUN. 

I have been going off into parts unknown as of late, delving into my long-simmering passion for astrology. It's been an interest since I was a teenager, but in the last two years or so I've started seeking out community and even went to my very first conference recently. And while there, since I'm currently a meh astrologer, the least I could do to make a contribution would be to bring in a stronger skill-set, namely, cocktails.

But how to connect the two? The obvious answer would be to make personalized cocktails based on a person's natal chart (go here to get a free chart construction and find out your placements!). But the rubric?

Welp, the more I think about it, the more precise and refined my ideas become, but also the more elaborate the groundwork gets. Further, it's getting to the point where I want to pull in the natal charts of some noted cocktailians such as Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemingway to test some theories. That much is gonna take some work, to the extent you'll likely find a full appendix on it in the Feu-de-Vie cocktail book (!!! Yep! Already hard at work on it, dribs and drabs noted on Twitter as they develop).

So in the meantime let's have some fun with a simpler exercise without the higher-end analytics.

There are so many styles of cocktails, what would be a consistent framework to swap-in varying ingredients based on multiple elements of a person's chart? (because Sun signs alone don't count in my book, we're so much more and don't get me started on the asteroids) How about ever-friendly Punch, the granddaddy of mixed drinks dating back to the misty days of the East India Trading Company? I could see the likes of William Lilly partaking.

Plus, punch relies on a set formula that doesn't require much tinkering with the ratio. As the old rhyme goes: One of sharp, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak

To break it down:

Sharp - the acid, the Sour, the counterbalance to the Sweet element. Generally citrus juices with low pH (lemon, lime). Other citrus can be used (orange varieties, pineapple, Meyer lemons mildly-so), but these tend to contain some Sweet, so a more complex balancing is needed (i.e. a drier sweetening element and/or a bitter liqueur and/or ratio adjustments).

Sweet - sugar, syrups, oleo saccharum, liqueurs.

Strong - the spirit or regular-proof alcohol. In some cases this could be a fortified wine, but you would want to dial back the Weak element, as punch has a particular balance to it.

Weak - water, teas, tisanes, carbonated beverages like ginger ale or seltzer, potentially cider, beer or sparkling wine. The low-if-any proof element that extends your concoction into a session potable.

Ah, but wait! Sure, we have the basic Planter's Punch ratio above but 1) "Punch" derives from the Hindi "Panch" meaning "5", as in the number of ingredients, and 2) it is a truth (that should be) universally acknowledged that a good cocktail must be in want of a #garnish. To that end, there is a second part to the rhyme:

A dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice, serve well chilled with plenty of ice.

Bitters? Spice? This sounds like a mediating element which either ties it all together or does PR for presentation or for one's nostrils. From a veritable pharmacopeia of choices, no doubt. 

As you might notice, we have 2 sets of paired opposites: Sharp/Sweet and Strong/Weak. How would this play out astrologically?

Well, astrology does have a lot of systematic food and herb assignments in existence already. The most obvious connection would be Sweet to the planet Venus, who rules stone fruits, roses and other sweet and pleasing things.

Whereas Sharp would be the opposite of Sweet, we pair the lesser benefic Venus with lesser malefic weapon-laden Mars. Hot and dry Mars associates well with the Fire element which associates with Choler, one of the four humours, also known as yellow bile. It's a light hop (hoplite?) and a skip from Choler back to acid.

As to the second set of paired opposites, there are 2 other possible pairings with the planets to follow suit with Venus/Mars. Strong/Weak could either be Jupiter/Saturn or Sun/Moon. Given that the Weak element is watery and the Strong element consists of fire(water), and that Jupiter/Saturn signs remain consistent for everyone born within a 1 or 3 year timeframe, the faster-moving Sun/Moon match the ingredient types better and allow for the kind of personalization that we're expecting for this exercise. At that, you could say that the cocktail revolves around the spirit choice in the same way the planets revolve around the Sun.

Finally, if the word-choice above didn't give it away, the ruler of herbalism and alchemy-minded Virgo, swift-footed mercantile Mercury, would be our go-to for bitters, spice, and garnish.

So to that end, here's a set of ingredient ideas to get you started. I fully expect to refine, rework, expand and expound (down Virgo Moon, DOWN!) upon this list for the book, especially to align families of ingredients by element and modality. Also, consider playing around with the iconography on the bottle for assignments - it's why I generally assign cognac to Leo but give centaur-labelled Remy Martin to Sagittarius. 

Oh, and, wondering how certain ingredients play out in recipes? *eyes that long list of tags to your right* 

I don't promise anything magickal or life-solving in these ideas (please, let's steer clear of finding answers in a bottle - ask an astrologer instead!). Staying on the level with personal preferences, likes, dislikes keeps it fun. Although, if you're looking for answers in combining bottles, shoot me your personal planets in the comments and I can help with a recipe, free of charge. I'll post my own tomorrow to provide an example. 

Got a question or better placement idea? Anything surprisingly ring true? Throw it at me in the comments! Let us repartée!

Sharp (♂) Sweet (♀) Strong (☉) Weak (☽) Spice (☿)
Aries (♈) lime juice, white grapefruit juice falernum, Cherry Heering, Ancho Reyes liqueur grappa, unaged cachaca, overproof unaged r(h)um peppermint tea, white tea peppermint, dill
Taurus (♉) pink lemon juice, Cara Cara orange juice Chambord, cinnamon syrup, allspice dram, mint syrup rum, rhum agricole, tequila para mi amante English or Irish
breakfast tea, peach tea
allspice, cinnamon
Gemini (♊) Finger lime juice,
Split lemon & lime juice, Don's Mix if ♊
Don's Spices #2, Don's Mix if ♊, other split sweeteners, mastic resin liqueur
pisco, tequila, infused spirits, contrasting split spirit pairs strawberry agua fresca banana dolphins, kumquats, split bitters
Cancer (♋) Lactart (lactic acid),
pineapple juice
coconut cream, coconut sugar syrup,
winter squash syrup
gin or other Mother's Ruin Milk, melon juices or melon agua fresca, infused water cucumber, nutmeg, spearmint
Leo (♌) orange juice, tangerine juice,
lemon juice
Gran Marnier, oleo saccharum, ginger syrup cognac Champagne, ginger beer, San Pellegrino citrus sodas (except chinotto) ginger coins, lemon mint,  orange bitters
Virgo (♍) shrub syrup, apple cider vinegar Barenjager, honey syrup, maple syrup gin, genever, herb-infused spirits herbal tea, ginger ale, green tea thyme, rosemary 
Libra (♎) lemon juice orgeat syrup  vanilla syrup, elderflower liqueur  calvados, stone fruit or pear eau-de-vie rose black tea, apple cider (juice or hard) edible flowers, sweet anise
Scorpio (♏) unsweetened
cranberry juice, blood orange juice
amari, pomegranate grenadine, sloe gin, creme de cassis, coffee syrup  bourbon, rye whiskey  lapsang souchong tea, San Pellegrino chinotto cloves, mace, star anise
Sagittarius (♐) Satsuma orange juice, other festive winter citrus juice, monastic herbal liqueur (Benedictine, Chartreuse, etc..), nocello/nocino, Jagermeister Batavia arrack, Remy Martin cognac Earl Grey tea, Belgian-style beer sage smoke, frankincense vapor
Capricorn (♑) Seville orange juice bitter aperitivos (Campari, Suze), King's Ginger Scotch tonic water, bitter lemon soda ambergris, Angostura bitters
Aquarius (♒) acid phosphate,
Tang if ♒♀
Splenda, Tang if ♒ vodka,
synthetically-aged whiskey
soda/pop/tonic esp. Coca-Cola, VitaminWater and similargelatin, soy lecithin, or xantham gum-based cocktail foam or air (made with an ISI Whip!)
Pisces (♓) Meyer lemon or yuzu juice Buddha's Hand oleo saccharum Madeira, sherry, sake  Seltzer, LaCroix lemongrass, candied violets