Negroni Afternoons and Working Women

Forget Mad Men, what about Mad Women?

I did something today, I don’t often do. Well, I don’t often do when I’m home in the middle of a work week and am having a very task oriented kind of day. I skipped out of the office at 3:00 to go have a late lunch and cocktail with my beloved, and I’m a little shocked at myself. Which is exactly why I should do this sort of thing every so often. So why does that make me feel a little bit guilty? Sometimes little indulgences are just what the doctor ordered, we’re told. We read how important it is to find life balance. We hear about investing in one’s wellbeing. Note I didn’t say health here, I meant wellbeing. Get out of your rut. Do the unexpected. Etc etc. In short, don’t be such a busy body and rigid in your thinking. Which leads me to wondering what is the root of such regularly scheduled rigidity? Even the word is painful.

As a woman, who owns her own business, and takes pride in how hard she has worked all of her adult life, being rigid in your thinking is exactly what you have to do to get it all done. I’m a regular Get ‘Er Done kind of gal. Raising children and owning a business are both full time jobs. Now squeeze in regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle and your daily 24 are used up. My kids are grown now, and I have found a little more me time. Still, I get up every morning and go into my office each day and put in a day of work, and if I don’t have current client work I find ways to keep myself busy. Clean the office, organize files, etc. What I don’t do is take more me time when I have it. Why do we do this to ourselves?  

Perhaps there’s the fear that if you don’t demonstrate constant dedication to whom I don’t know, you may not be taken seriously. This is a fear some of us women professional types dance with. Some of us are better than others, depending on the day, and I suspect depending on your age. How rich it must feel to be so cocksure every day! I aspire to that confidence! And yet, there I was, sitting at a bar at 3:00 having an afternoon Negroni no less! What a wonder. I’m a regular Mad Men type of creative, and I see what the hype is all about. Being naughty is fun. Maybe even makes you feel more creative and more a BOSS. Being naughty is most assuredly a loose term, as I imagine there are many for whom this is a regular event. For me, it felt like I was busting out of something. 

I was raised to be career oriented, yet I was surrounded by women who were not. They worked hard, but not at a career. I feel like I’m part of one of the last generations that has toed the line between growing up to be a wife and mom and growing up to kick ass in the work place. I don’t see this as a struggle for many young women today and I wonder if that’s accurate. I see much bravado and confidence with young men, perhaps to their peril. Confidence is great, but you still need experience and only time will give you that. Are young women as confident today? Do they struggle with decisions between the two? I’m certain it’s not as black and white as this, but in general terms where is the collective mindset. From all outward appearances it seems women are on track to truly kicking ass and that makes me very happy, because I know women are truly capable of great things!

In the spirit of all working women who are amazing, I will go to work tomorrow and will jump in to my day as usual, but I will do it with an eye towards the benefits of breaking a cycle and seeing old things in new ways. Try new things. Be bold. Be a little outrageous. Own your world and your career. To be clear, I’m not telling you to drink in the afternoon, I’m simply reminding us all that ruts don’t benefit. They certainly don’t enhance the creative process nor do they make you feel like the bad ass you are. You have nothing to lose by being a better version of you, and pushing yourself in new ways — even when it feels a little naughty. 

In the Belly of a Dragon

Slow indulgent evenings abound in Taipei, a city of 7 million +. Taipei is an urban experience of controlled chaos, manicured canines, smoky incense filled alleys and surprises around every corner, but amongst all the bustle of the evenings and endless food markets, little pockets of calm can be yours. On such an evening, my partner in crime and I wandered up a dark, slightly bending street. Our destination, Indulge Experimental Bistro, a winner in the William Reed, Worlds50BestBars.com. This is a tall order, and it was our personal goal to determine for ourselves the veracity of such a bold statement. I am here to tell you- it is well deserved.

A fascinating element of Taipei is the very new mixed with the very old. You smell the incense first in the warm humid air, then round the corner to a temple.

Located in the Da-an District, in what feels to be a quiet residential neighborhood you’ll find yourself standing in front of a large frosted glass wall and blonde wood door of similar height. You are not lost. Keep going. Inside is a welcoming buzzy room of modern hued light and creamy tones. We grabbed the last two seats at the end of the bar, our preferred post to better observe the orchestration of the mysterious goings on behind the scene. As we watched as our bartender perfectly shape a sphere of crystal clear ice with no more than a pitchfork ice pick we sent our telepathic happy dance. 

and the gardens…

The bistro does offer a beautiful dinner specializing in the 4 distinct culinary regions of Taiwan, and we did eat, however this article is about Stanley, the barkeep, mixologist and voodoo maestro manning the helm of the Indulge bar. He is indeed master of his domain. If you’re wondering why his name is Stanley and not a Chinese name, we’ll save this curious topic for another story. Suffice it to say for those tongue tied westerners, this courtesy is a saving grace. Back to Stanley.

Stanley effuses calm, cool precision. From his crisp attire to his perfectly poised hair, he is decidedly put together. He commands his team with calm detailed instruction and delivers one masterful tipple after another. However, as often as not we chose to order off menu. It had been a full day and I needed to set my calm with something familiar and warming. I wanted brown liquor, possibly a Manhattan or Boulevardier- classic and fulfilling. My feet hurt. And he delivered, a perfect Man. Not particularly extraordinary as in unique, but you don’t want extraordinary with a Man—you want perfection. It’s not complicated yet many don’t deliver. The Manhattan delivered, the Boulevardier delivered and the world was rosy and round once again.

Thus lubed and somewhat fed, I was emboldened and wanted to know what they would do with a Sazerac. I hear you now, unfair unfair you holler, you’re in Taiwan not New Orleans, but oh ye of little faith, this lady of the south desired a Sazerac, and what an exquisite one it was. 

…these felt like wishes blowing in the breeze, but I honestly don’t know.

Did I mention they won a spot in the WorldsBest50Bars.com? Here is where Stanley stole the show. He spoke to us for a while about our tastes and would we consider something with a decidedly Asian twist on a classic. Why yes please. He set down in front of me pure art; a paper-thin crystal orb, with that same perfectly clear sphere of ice and a subtly sublime Sazerac. Hints of anise, a face of Rye, a touch of citrus all sweet-hot a coiling dragon and love all in one. He then presented a small smoking cedar box in front of my beloved. Inside was a cocktail of a different type of beauty, and mystery. A personal spa steeped in cedar smoke performing reflexology on your feet all while you sipped Oolong tea in a garden of lush greens. It was whiskey and an infused tea bitters with a hint of the orient. Mic drop. We are forever loyal Stanley, and will Indulge every time we visit Taipei.

Should you find yourself fortunate enough to be wandering the streets of Taipei, do yourself a solid and go see Stanley at Indulge Experimental Bistro. He will make your world a better place. Indulge Bistro. Da’an District, Lane 219, Section 1, Fuxing South Road

Written from the comfy bed of our room at the Eclat Hotel, Taipei.