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bad dog bitters

It’s no secret that I’m a whiskey fan. It is, in fact, my favorite of all the libations. About four years ago, when I was living in Chicago, my brother and sister in law got me into whiskey. It was casual- we all loved diet coke, and so we would add a little Makers Mark and sit on the back porch drinking whiskey and diets and talking about the way we viewed life and what we were learning. Truthfully, Chicago was one of the roughest seasons of life for me. It was one of learning my identity, hashing out incredibly difficult relationships, and really developing a language for what and who I value. In a silly way, whiskey was a huge part of that for me. It was this drink that became a routine with my closest people, who walked me through a season of challenge and change.

On one of those back porch evenings, I was working through a conflict with a rather challenging friend. In simplicity, my sister in law encouraged me to surround myself with people who speak life over me- people who are positive and speak words of hope and growth over me. It’s one of those conversations that was so simple and yet altered the trajectory of how I perceive relationship. It challenged me to think about the way I speak over my friends. Do I speak and interact with them in a way that calls out the good and pushes them further into growth? Do I help tell them who they are? Do I give them words of life? It is amazing to me the power of our words- they really do have the ability to orient the movement of our lives. In a simple phrase challenging me to surround myself with life giving people over a glass of whiskey, my sister in law shifted something for me.

In college, a counselor once told me, if you don’t feel beautiful, write on your mirror “I am beautiful” and repeat it to yourself out loud every morning. It was something I did for about a year, and my identity actually did begin to change. There were other factors as well, but in that process I began to believe that I was beautiful, that I was someone worth loving, that I was full of value and full of beauty. My eyes actually shifted the way I saw myself, through the power of my words.

When I moved to LA, this desire to be someone who speaks life ran heavy through me. With a similar-minded friend one evening, we sat in my loft and dreamed up a community dinner party called Whiskey Wednesdays, where I’d invite 20 strangers to come and dine and drink whiskey and talk life with one another. It was one of the most beautiful projects I’ve done- inviting people into a safe space- to connect, in an authentic way, and hear words of story and life spoken over them.

In that process, I fell in love with cocktailing- and most often with whiskey. I also stumbled on a bitters that I love, it’s called Bad Dog Sarsaparilla Dry Bitters and I keep coming back to it. Bad Dog Bitters are hand crafted bitters made in small batches in Austin, Texas. The smell alone is nostalgic for me, conjuring up memories of beautiful conversation and hours and hours of dinner. Plus, it’s just so deliciously good. The Sarsaparilla Dry Bitters is fantastic and has this delicious bite to it. One of my recurring cocktails is a simple one; a blackberry bittered rye old fashioned.

This holiday season, as you’re surrounded by family and friends, find something in them to call out and speak life into. Use your words in a way that builds them up and brings out the beauty of who they are. And even better, do it over a cocktail 🙂

The Blackberry Bittered Rye Old Fashioned

1.5 oz rye whiskey
2 blackberries
5 dashes Black Dog Sarsaparilla Bitters
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp simple syrup

In a cocktail glass, muddle your bitters, blackberries, simple syrup and lemon juice. Add your whiskey and stir about 20 times. Add a large whiskey ice cube, or a scoop of ice and stir well. Garnish with another blackberry and serve.

Photos by Amanda Gallant




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