Mona at Sea by Elizabeth Gonzalez James
Mona is an excellent student with an excellent job in finance lined up to launch her post-college career. Then the recession hits and she finds herself living at home, trapped in the middle of her parents’ crumbling marriage. Her mother tells her to buck up and attend workshops for the unemployed in a church basement, while her dad tries to surreptitiously buy her some weed. She’s snarky and bitter and feels cheated out of the future she was promised. Mona’s sharp wit and meanness serve as a shield to hide her fragility and emotional chaos.
For this cocktail, I chose tequila and Blue Curaçao for a sea-like look. Coconut water helps blend the flavors and, next to avocado toast, it’s the perfect symbol of Millennial pretension and privilege, or what is perceived as such. Chili powder adds a touch of spice, while coffee cacao bitters are a nod to the coffee Mona is constantly consuming.
In presenting this booktail, I chose a reflective base and intentionally used the “wrong” glass (a tall beer glass) to make the vessel fronting this “tableau of woe” seem larger than life. Also, what 20-something has cocktail glasses? (The recipe will not yield this volume, just FYI. But feel free to double, or triple it. Mona probably would.) In the background are self-help books, plus a copy of Sartre’s “No Exit” (“hell is others.”) I also included a pipe and lighter to reference the weed-smoking Mona can’t afford. The pipe is complementary in color, with eyes painted on the bowl and along the stem, maybe to ward off bad luck, but also a reference the opening of the third eye, or inner eye to the self. Seeing ourselves clearly is perhaps the most difficult sight of all.
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Agitate vigorously until the shaker feels frosty. Strain and pour into a martini glass.