I drafted some blog posts, ideas, and thoughts when I was first recovering from cancer and going through more rigorous chemo. Since then, I’ve wanted to move on, but some of the more fun cancer-inspired projects have stuck. One of these is mocktails. From here out, Monday is mocktail day on the blog.

Because of my medicine and my general quest for health, I’ve given up alcohol since my cancer diagnosis. One thing that’s shocked me the most about my decision to give up alcohol is the response that I often receive when I either refuse alcohol, or explain that, for at least the next two years [likely forever], I wont be drinking. People are shocked. Forget the horrendous side effects of my medicine, the fact that I’ve been delayed in my degree progress, or the emotional and mental trauma of illness. The fact that I no longer drink alcohol – or caffeine at that, the horror! – really upsets some people. I think it’s because drinking is a visible trace of my cancer battle. Most everything else has remained somewhat hidden within the comforts of my home. Joey and my immediate family see my struggles, my closest friends know about the intimate details, but beyond that I pass as incredibly “normal.” When I don’t participate in what I now realize is a bedrock social convention of our culture, I am all of a sudden publicly marked by my battle. What’s funny is that I don’t miss alcohol in the least. In fact, Joey has never really liked drinking at all, so he has gladly joined me in an alcohol free life that we’re both really enjoying.

Here’s the thing, I don’t miss alcohol, but I do miss the social ritual of having a cocktail, a glass of wine, and the occasional beer at the ball game. When I was first recovering it was really important for me to figure out how I could continue to participate in these rituals given my new restrictions – the last thing I wanted was to feel left out.

With the help of a dear friend, I came up with the idea to start a blog called “Moxie Tales” where I chronicled the new drinks that I came up with to indulge in the social rituals of drinking without any alcohol. While I never actually started the blog, I did do some writing that helped to inspire me into new social rituals of my own.

The following was written almost exactly a year ago. I decided not to change anything for posterity sake. It’s funny to remember how this time last year I didn’t even know that we would be moving to New York. Amazing what can change, and what remains the same, in the span of one short year…

Definition:
mox.ie (n)
1: energy, pep
2: courage, determination
3: know-how
– the origin of this word dates back to the soft drink, Moxie. While this is an example of a non-alcoholic drink and this blog is about non-alcoholic beverages, the two have no actual nor ideological connection.
tale (n)
1: obsolete: discourse, talk
2: a) a series of events or facts told or presented
b) a report of a private or confidential matter; a libelous report or piece of gossip
3: a) a usually imaginative narrative of an event
b) an intentionally untrue report
4: a) count, taly
b) total

What:
“Moxie Tales” chronicles the “tales” of my journey to enjoy drinks that are made from whole, healthy and organic ingredients without too many added sugars. This journey includes learning about and trying non-alcoholic drink options like mocktails, infused waters, shrubs, elixers, teas, and even the occasional granita or smoothie both at home and at the bar. I also share how these libations pair with other aspects of my whole living journey and joy for socializing. I strive for “moxie” in both my life and my non-alcoholic concoctions – endearingly referred to in my house as moxietails – and I hope that you will join me for a drink!

Who/Where:
My name is Ashley and this is my blog about most things non-alcoholic beverages and some things my life. I am a twenty-something artist/scholar living a bi-coastal existence between Oakland, CA where I have lived and worked for the past five years and Miami, FL where my husband is working for the next year. I have no formal knowledge of or training in food, mixology, design, or hospitality. While this is the case, I try to bring my personal passion for these things into my daily life. I grew up around organic family gardens in Upstate NY, went to college with a crew of “foodies,” and now live in one of the food capitals of the country. Relying on others’ expertise (hello Moosewood Cookbook, dear friends who graduated from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, and pals who live the CA slow food lifestyle), I have always enjoyed eating good food, cooking for friends, setting the table for holidays, and pairing all of these and any special occasions with a not too sweet/not too salty but plenty strong cocktail or deep red glass of wine.

Why/How:
Recently, I decided to cut alcohol from my diet for health reasons and thus embarked on a journey to fill my cocktail ritual – both social and gastronomic – with non-alcoholic beverages. There must be fantastic non-alcoholic substitutes for my not too sweet/not too salty but plenty strong cocktail habits, or for my desire to pair good wine with nice eats. What I found in my quest for fun, flirty, and sophisticated non-alcoholic treats were a plethora of recipes, very few of which filled all of my slow sipping desires. Many “mocktails” were saturated with refined sugars and were way too sweet for my tastes. Or drinks were made with fancy and expensive juicers to which I have no access. I found lots of nice teas and subtle lemonades, but these often lacked the sophistication and fancy cocktail glass that I so desired. And then there were those gems in the rough, those carefully measured and simply created masterpieces that fulfilled my wildest novice drinking interests. In this blog, I chronicle my favorite drink recipes and how to adjust others for a more subtle and sophisticated palate.

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