September Cocktail: Cynara!

As the days grow short and the nights grow cold, thoughts turn inwards and backwards. This is the time for silent contemplation rather than rowdy merrymaking – and an excellent time for reading poetry. Our cocktail of the month is a warm, spicy blend of Mediterranean delicacies, perfect for those quiet evenings and secret tête-à-têtes. It is inspired by our song Cynara! which is inspired by Ernest Dowson’s poem “Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae”, which in turn borrows its title from Horace’s Odes.

In other words, here’s a healthy dose of intertextual merriment in a glass! If you’re looking for something to impress the ladies with, look no further. If you’re a real Casanova, you memorise the final stanza of Dowson’s poem and deliver it with suitable panache. We guarantee that the night is thine.

cynara

Cynara! ♦

4  parts Samos Nectar*
1  part Brandy
5 parts Hot water
4 Cloves
Orange peel, freshly grated/cut
Grated nutmeg  

Heat the wine and the brandy with the water, but do not bring to a boil. Add the cloves and the orange peel to a wine glass. Pour on the heated wine mixture and the and grate a little nutmeg on top. Summon all the memories of your lost loves. Read the letter you never sent. Cry for madder music, for you have stronger wine.

*(You can use any white dessert wine, such as Sauternes or Tokaji. We tend to stick to Samos Nectar for the sheer joy of quoting Lord Byron as we toast: “Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!” is a line that simply cannot be yelled too often.)

I stumbled upon an excellent introduction to Dowson’s original poem in the Guardian, explaining the connection between Horace’s line and Dowson’s ode to lovesickness. Do read it, and the poem below it, as you’re waiting for your ingredients to heat. Then listen to our song here:

There are many similarities and direct Dowson quotes in Cynara!, but the woman answering the “faithful” lover is not the pale, lost lily the poet remembers. Dowson seems to suggest that Cynara has died an early death, but I pictured a Cynara more advanced in years, contemplating the wound that has bound the poet and the muse together in spite of time and distance.

Cynara!

Do not resort to stronger wine, my love
Under my reign superbly you shall bloom
You may well refuse,
But should you refuse
Then what is it you’re proving, and to whom?

The orbits do their dance, and here we are
The music stops, the dawn is gray again
Insufferably close
Insufferably far
I never was so hungry for the pain.

How could you say that you loved me
When you were my fate
And how could I say that you’ve hurt me
When I was your fatal flaw?

Are you and I as worthless as before,
All charm, and talk, and pride, and sleight of hand?
Our new loves are faint
All sweet, mild restraint
But ours has fetters neither can withstand.

So marry and make merry as you please
Be faithful in your fashion, your design
But when lamps expire,
Oh, when lamps expire,
This prickly thistle sings, the night is mine!

How could you say that you loved me
When you were my fate
And how could I say that you’ve hurt me
When I was your fatal flaw?

– Laura

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Filed under Cocktails, Inspiration, Literature

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