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I got into a rental car Wednesday morning and drove from Montreal (where I live) to New York City after recently deciding to dip my toe in the waters of social reintegration. It’s been 17 months since I left Montreal. That’s 75 weeks. That’s 527 days. That’s 45,499,949 seconds in which I don’t do what I used to do with great regularity: travel.

As someone whose primary way of coping with life is … oh, you know, just going, this would have seemed impossible to me before the Quar. But I took the lockdown seriously and seriously, and thankfully, thanks to my second primary life coping – withdrawn and avoidant complacency – it wasn’t that bad staying inside.

The ride itself was familiar and pleasantly uneventful – in fact, downright enjoyable. Few things for me embody freedom like a car with a full tank, an open road, and a playlist ready to be played. (This is perhaps the most American thing about me.) I felt encouraged by this literal and metaphorical road with no bumps or ditches. Maybe re-entering civilization wouldn’t be so scary after all. Maybe it would be like riding a bike (or, um, driving a car).

Oh sweet optimism, why am I preoccupied with you? As soon as I entered the parking garage and began the winding descent into the inferno, which is the Avis parking space, I realized that I was wrong.

So now I’m in New York, like a creature that has just hatched and is trying to take its first cautious steps into a world that is chaotic and presumptuous. Or like Ice Age Brendan Frasier when he thaws in Blast From the Past. Has New York always been that loud? This hustle and bustle? So hot? Have the lights always been this bright? Have sidewalks always been this full? It’s a steroidal blur of sensory immersion, like trying to get on a speeding train.

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The answer is, of course, yes – NYC has always been like that, but right now I feel like I not just dipped a toe, I unknowingly plunged myself into the deep end.

I checked into my hotel room straight away and haven’t gone since. Normally I wouldn’t prescribe a cocktail as a fluid courage tool, but for my purposes and purposes I could really use a Bin & Gitters right now. It’s easy to make, refreshing as hell, and has just the right amount of alcohol to calm the deluge.

For the Bin & Grids you will need:

  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces gin
  • Generous splash of Angostura

Pour lime juice, sugar syrup and gin into a tumbler and swirl vigorously to incorporate the ingredients. Fill a glass with crushed ice and pour a quarter of the lime, syrup and gin mixture into it, then press the ice into place with the bottom of the tumbler. (The liquid melts the ice a little, creating more space in the glass so you can get maximum crushed ice capacity.) Add more ice and pour the rest of the liquid into the ice-filled glass. Add the angostura that creates a float – use as much as you like … I like a lot – then top up with more crushed ice. Take a deep breath and take a long sip. Exhale. Enjoy. It will be alright. ( Probably. )