In 1796, Italian distiller Antonio Carpano sat down in the summer heat and took the first sip of his latest creation. He just invented a new aperitif. A lighter and sweeter alternative to red wine. He named the recipe vermouth.

For years aperitifs were used before meals to help digestion. The word even comes from the latin word “aperire,” which means, “to open.” But vermouth became an overnight success. It became so popular in Europe that soon a new meaning for the pre-dinner cocktail was born.

Today, the aperitif is an homage to transition. It signals the shift from busy afternoon to relaxed evening. It is a state of intermission—punctuating the space between endings and new starts. The aperitif is the marketing genius behind, “Happy Hour” and the culprit responsible for the phrase, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”

But the idea of taking a ritual, such as drinking, to punctuate the day goes beyond ice cubes and orange peels.

I recently found myself speeding towards severe cognitive burnout. Too many projects, too little space. The chapters of my day bled into each other. I felt like one long, run-on sentence that scrambles the mind and torments the page.

I needed transitions—alcoholic or otherwise.

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In his fourth book, Ego Is The Enemy, Ryan Holiday offers his readers one of life’s most valuable gifts: The chance to learn from other people’s mistakes.

Examining the rise and fall of some of history’s most notable names — Jackie Robinson, Ben Franklin, Alexander The Great, Howard Hughes, to name a few — the book serves as a roadmap to managing the one thing that has ruined countless careers, relationships, and lives — our own ego.

His definition is not meant in the Freudian sense, but as, “an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition… The need to be better than, more than, recognized for, far past any reasonable utility — that’s ego.”

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We’ve all been Arturo Bandini.

Writing out our life on the typewriter in our head, filling pages with bravado and charm. Dishing out dialogue we can never find in the moment. Delusions of passion filling our imagination while we’re alone only to vanish once a beautiful woman stands before us.

We’ve all waited for Camilla to throw rocks at our window in the middle of the night.

The American classic that almost never was, Ask The Dust, by John Fante was published in 1939. But mixed reviews and the novels soon-to-be bankrupt publisher kept it out of the limelight until around 1980 when Charles Bukowski declared, “Fante was my God.”

There are many themes in Ask The Dust– catholic guilt, race identity, 1930’s Los Angeles.

More than anything, it’s a love story.

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