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Morning brew

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    Refrigerate coconut whipping cream overnight. Empty entire contents of can into a mixing bowl and whip on high for 3 minutes until cream is stiff. Pour hot water into Toddy glass and let stand until glass is hot. Pour out water and add Jameson cold brew Irish whiskey and rich simple syrup. Add Illy 100% Arabica coffee, and top with coconut whipping cream.

Ringing in the New Year is a time for resolutions and self-improvement. Don’t get me wrong, self-reflection is a good thing. Introspection keeps us humble; it keeps things in perspective. It prevents us from judging others who may not share in our support networks, and it allows us a moment to take a step back and consider the situation from a different angle.

I spent a good portion of my holiday season writing Christmas cards. While writing my parents theirs, three days into the New Year, I remind myself that a Christmas card received a few days late does not a tragedy make. Not many years ago, I was not so kind to myself. Even waking up late was reason enough to chastise myself over the two double espressos it took to get through a shift, and the three cocktails which kept me from bed until 4 a.m. the night before, and the names I had for myself were not kind.

A few years back, a teacher from my high school was admonished by the Pope himself, for his speech as a guest speaker for a college graduating class, titled, “You Are Not Special.” Needless to say, the title itself drew outrage from every parent who had ever uttered the words, “You are a snowflake,” to their precious child. But the message struck a chord with me and many of my classmates. Having attended a prestigious private school, we were familiar with the idea of performance-based love; that obedience and good grades warranted praise, and the lack of it did not. Was that what our teacher meant? Of course not. His message was simply that a life worth living was defined by the sum of one’s actions. But that’s exactly how many of us, carefully molded perfectionists, took it.

Perfection is a tricky concept. In hospitality, perfect service is, more often than not, overlooked. Imperfect service, however, measured by genuine care to overcome mistakes and make amends, amasses far greater reviews, and impacts our memory more deeply than if the service had been consummate in the first place. In his Symposium, Plato describes perfect beings as desiring of nothing because there was nothing left to desire. Necessity being the mother of invention, with nothing left to desire, there was nothing left to create, and the beings had to be separated. The Japanese art of kintsugi uses gold joinery to repair broken pottery, as a metaphor for embracing flaws; the mended pieces become more lovely than the original work.

Over the course of my career in restaurants, I’ve been called “perfect” exactly three times. While I knew it meant I had done something right, the word set off the same reel of thoughts in my head of all the ways I was exactly imperfect. As easy as it is to muster up empathy for others through introspection, it’s more difficult to do the same for ourselves. It’s something we must learn. Just as with kintsugi, it takes discipline for the work to be truly healing. We may not all be snowflakes, but we’re all unique, which makes us fascinating.

For those of you who also enjoy straddling that crepuscular line, here’s a little souped-up riff on a caffeinated classic, the Irish coffee. Once an a-la-minute cure-all for the weary traveler, this 1942 Shannon Airport icon made its way to the famous, Buena Vista Café, a full decade later, by way of travel writer Stanton Delaplane. The San Francisco icon has since been known for procuring the best ever rendition of the renowned morning brew, so much so that it pumps out up to 2,000 cups every single day.

Alicia Yamachika is a bartender and craft mixologist, who currently is the key account manager at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits on Oahu. Follow her on Instagram (@alicia_yamachika). Her column will appear every second Wednesday in Crave.

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