Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Apres Nous

The famous phrase, attributed to Louis XV, the next-to-last resident of Versailles, "apres nous, le déluge," is supposed to serve as an ironic caution to overindulgence and selfish disregard of those less privileged. And undoubtedly, in that monarch's case, it could never have been more apropos. But the other side of that old coin is this: That we--no matter who we are--may indulge in the expectation that the bounty we enjoy, may never again be available, and that our descendants, no matter who they may be, will not have what we had. Is this vanity?

History rolls over us, and we are squashed or lifted up on its successive waves. If we are lucky, we live in interesting times, though perhaps not too interesting. Violent change usually leaves casualties strewn about. Quiet times are safer, but may also be less rich.

There are some who speculate that we may be at the end of a wave of prosperity, that humankind may never again be privileged to indulge in as much reckless consumption as it recently has. If that is true, are we guilty of historical selfishness? Moderation would suggest that we should not follow our appetites too far.

How much of the good life do we deserve? Is what I take in effect stolen from another? Are we entitled to only so much pleasure, and no more? Or are we chosen, more or less at random, to be humankind's stand-ins, or proxies, designated by some capricious higher power, to taste and appreciate and discriminate aspects of the fine, the rare, the rich?

To some extent, we may make our own opportunities, or, as it is said, "make [our] own luck." What's your pleasure? Wine? Women? Song? Food? Sport? The delights of the mind?

Best to contemplate these things with a bit of stimulation to lighten the mood. Here's a straightforward construction guaranteed not to offend. It's quite traditional, emphasizing the citrus side of flavor. I wonder what Louis XV would have made of a sip or two of it, on a hot Summer day beneath an embroidered canopy. I venture he'd have liked it. Cocktails didn't exist in the France of the 18th Century, but there were other "consolations," as we say. He needed only to raise his hand to summon them.

Proportions as fractions of 1, per usual.

3 parts canadian whisky
2 parts Aperol
1 part Mandarin liqueur
1 part limoncello
1 part lime juice

Swirled and served up, preferably on the back deck at sunset. Perhaps with some freshly ripe avocado, salted and peppered and dribbled with fresh lemon juice. Apres nous!

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