This is a post about my one of my all-time favorite cocktails… but it’s also a post about my relationship with alcohol, and how the last few months have changed that. So if you’re just looking for the recipe, scroll all the way down and I got you covered. The mezcal old fashioned is smokey, sweet, bitter, and, in my opinion, the perfect cocktail. Anel and I perfected our recipe at home and back when going to restaurants was a thing, we used to order them on date nights.
Ok now onto the meat of what I want to say. Let’s start back in my college days…
In college, my friends and I would go out 4-5 nights a week. We’d play beer pong, take shots, drink way too much, and stay up way too late multiple nights a week. Basically, we destroyed our livers but somehow still managed to not only wake up for class but keep up our GPAs. Unreal. I look back at that time and cringe but also it was so much fun.
After graduation, I moved to New York and it was much of the same, but only on the weekends between workweeks. My friends and I would go out to bars and clubs (what?!) and each year, the hangovers got a little bit worse.
When I met Anel, we were 24 and he was the only person I knew who didn’t go out and party. He might have one drink at dinner but that was about it. Fast forward 10 years and I’ve only seen him get drunk maybe 3 times ever. So when we started dating, I slowed down a lot.
We were both working in nutrition and surrounded ourselves with relatively healthy people so drinking wasn’t as prominent a fixture in my life as it had been in the past. So for years after we met, I didn’t drink very much at all.
But then I had a baby…
My postpartum anxiety was so bad with Amalia that I would have to have a glass of wine at 4 pm every day or I would completely spiral out of control with intrusive thoughts. This was before I had started therapy or gone on medication and it was the only way I knew how to cope. I now know that this was self-medicating but at the time, it felt necessary.
My friends and people online talked about “mommy juice” and their nightly glasses of wine so I figured this was just a normal thing. But unlike other moms, my baby blues just got worse and worse and I kept trying to tamper it down with alcohol. I never really got drunk, I would just drink to take the edge off, as they say.
Then I’d wake up with anxiety about the fact that I had had a drink for however many nights in a row and it was not a good situation anymore. I’d beat myself up and then started to panic thinking I had a drinking problem.
When I started therapy, my therapist told me that a lot of people with mental health issues drink often to be able to cope with life when they feel out of control. When I ultimately decided to start taking medication for anxiety, I realized it was working when I didn’t have a drink for a week and hadn’t even thought about it.
Then COVID hit and I started getting breakthrough symptoms and drinking more often again. I wrote about this last week but want to reiterate my new mantra because it’s helped me so much:
Drink when you’re feeling good or if it’s for fun. Don’t drink if you’re feeling anxious or stressed and need it to cope.
A lot of people can have a drink when they’re stressed and it’s not a problem for them. But for me, and many people who live with anxiety or depression, it makes things worse in the long run.
Having a glass of rosé at a beautiful lunch in the south of France, for example, is very different than a glass of rosé at 4:30 on a Tuesday with a screaming toddler running around you in circles. I will always love grabbing a cocktail and laughing with girlfriends or having a glass of wine with my husband on date night, but I’ve found better ways to cope with my anxiety on tough days.
I’ve been trying to live this mantra during quarantine but really committed to it fully in the last week and a half and have had a major major shift in my anxiety. I’ve always been really sensitive to everything from Advil to alcohol, so I’m not sure why it surprised me so much, but it has been unbelievably noticeable.
Here is how it is working for me now: if it’s a beautiful Saturday and we’re having a great day as a family and Anel suggests a cocktail before dinner, we make one and enjoy it in the sunshine with bare feet and a smile. Or if we order in for our weekly date night at home, we might have a glass of wine and really enjoy it. And as soon as we’re able, you bet I’ll be going out for drinks with my friends. To celebrate life and seeing each other again.
For now, I’ve also noticed that if I have only one drink, it’s in a positive setting, and it’s not after 8pm, I don’t wake up with any anxiety at all. So that’s where things stand today. As the pandemic progresses or doesn’t and my anxiety ebbs and flows, that may change, but it’s working really well for me and I hope that in sharing this, it opens some of your eyes in the same way that it opened mine.
And without further ado, here is a recipe for a cocktail that always makes me smile.
Mezcal Old Fashioned Recipe
– 2 oz reposado tequila
– 1/2 oz mezcal
– 1 tspn agave nectar
– 2 dashes Angostura bitters
– Orange peel (or clementine peel if that’s all you have!)
1. Pour all of the liquids into a cocktail shaker with lots of ice.
2. Shake until chilled (don’t forget to put the top on first!)
3. Pour over ice
4. Enjoy responsibly!