The Great Gatsby & The Daisy Buchanan Cocktail
There's no way that at fourteen, I could ever really know what freedom meant. By twenty-four, I'm a little closer. The thrill of freedom lives somewhere in the underlying fear of failure, the chance that everything could come crashing down around you—and yet doesn't. The thrill isn't opportunity, it's missed opportunity. It's failure.
At fourteen, I had no idea what it was like to lose yourself to the glowing lure of a stiff drink and a puff of smoke. At fourteen, I had no idea that success itself is as intoxicating as any drug. I knew what success was, in some abstract way, but never imagined or really ever thought about what the whirlwind of success, and excess was actually like.
Ten years later, I'm no Hollywood starlet, no famed New Yorker writer or indie music darling. But at twenty-four, I have had a few tantalizing tastes of what that success feels like: Lavish parties in glamorous destinations. My name in print. A national ad campaign. At twenty-four, I know what achievement feels like, and I know what it feels like to want more, and more, and maddeningly more. I know just how much success both lifts us up, and weighs down on us.
In the years between readings, I too have climbed the social ladder, from a working-class upbringing to a comfortable perch in the upper-middle class. Funnily enough, even the building I live in smacks of the wild excesses of the nouveau riche. Built in 1927, it was a former hotel presumably built for the waves of chic and bored midwestern youths looking to rub elbows with the glitterati of Lincoln Park.
All this to say that I think the mistake in making high schoolers read The Great Gatsby is a very large one. I’ll admit, it’s a pretty handy way to teach young readers about metaphor, foreshadowing, symbolism and the like, but what good is it to have those tools at the ready when you can’t relate to the characters? Before you read, consider this, which I hope will influence you just a tad: I read Gatsby the first time at fourteen, though I could just not imagine a real-life world of such grandiosity. Of such extreme selfishness. A decade later, I know the Nick Carraways, Jay Gatsbys, and Daisy Buchanans of the world only too well.
THE DAISY BUCHANAN COCKTAIL
- 3 medium slices cucumber (1/8)
- pinch salt
- 2oz Beefeater gin
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
- 3 drops rose water
Muddle cucumber and pinch of salt. Add remaining ingredients. Let sit for 30 seconds (time allowing). Shake. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with 1 floating mint leaf and 1 drop rose water on top of leaf if desired. Sip like the fabulous young thing you are.
Source of the book: Myopic Books, in Wicker Park, Chicago.