The mixology craze hit the city about 2 years ago, and Paul's been inventing new cocktails on a formerly desolate strip of Milwaukee Avenue ever since. The bar where he hones his craft is neither cozy tavern nor gritty watering hole, but it's not fastidious either. It often features live music or a dj on a tiny stage, but the real stars here are the drinks. Their complete cocktail archive includes names like the Sibling Rivalry, the Hemingway, and the Smoking Corpse, many of them coined by Paul. He recently mixed me up some gin, bitters, and tangerine marmalade and poured it, up, into a martini glass. Swoon.
So on this day, as I prepare for our annual New Year's Eve trek to central Wisconsin, and harbor some dread for my return to work, and anticipate 2010 with both steely reserve and squinty optimism, I raise a glass to another year behind us and another offering its promises ahead. When I reflect back on 2009, it will register as one of the toughest yet, but also a year full of texture, where I was constantly forced to prove something to myself (and was successful maybe half the time).
It was also a banner year for the neighborhood, with many more good things to eat and drink, some new businesses thrown in the mix, community gardens just a stone's throw away, and new neighbors to get to know. Plus some cemented appreciation for the things that aren't so new: my favorite grocery store, hardware store, taqueria, tamale vendors, bike routes, backyard barbecues, alley culture, Polish deli, street art, thrift stores, music festivals, park benches, block club, friends within walking distance, and ever-evolving little green house.
This will be my final entry of the year before I'm off to Wisconsin and off the grid, so let me also hoist a glass to each of you, who always makes me feel a part of something larger than myself. Thanks for your comments (both verbal and written), your unrelenting support, and your uncanny ability to crack me up. It's certainly been a year. Thanks for being part of it.