March 26: Robert Frost

It was 140 years ago today that Robert Frost was born. Frost was one of America’ most beloved and renowned poets of the 20th century, winning four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry.

Frost’s most famous poem is probably his 1916 composition “The Road Not Taken”. The poem is a first person account of a man coming across a fork in the road and having to make a choice about which path he shall follow. At some point in your life, probably after a graduation or some other milestone life event, someone undoubtedly cited the last lines of this poem (“I took the one less traveled by/And that has made all the difference.”) as advice that taking your own path will lead to great success.

While that is good advice, anyone who says that that’s the moral of the poem obviously hasn’t actually read it. If you actually read the poem you’ll notice two very important things: First, Frost clearly states that the two roads that diverged in the yellow wood were virtually identical.

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Second, check out the start of the final stanza. Those who only look at the last line are making a very serious sin of omission by ignoring the context in which the narrator says that his choice of path made a difference.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

That the narrator’s saying this with a sigh is really important.  Frost has said that the sigh was “…my rather private jest at the expense of those who might think I would yet live to be sorry for the way I had taken in life.”, and thus the poem is intended to mock the indecisive and those who focus too much on their regrets, often attributing blame to minor events like the choice of path one took through the woods one day.

On the Upper West Side of New York City there is a bar called The Dead Poet. Unsurprisingly, the Dead Poet features several specialty cocktails, all of them named after dead poets and of course there’s one called Robert Frost. It’s a refreshingly fruity cocktail that’s served in a pint glass.

Robert Frost

  • 1 1/2 ounce Vanilla Vodka
  • 3/4 ounce Melon Liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce Raspberry Liqueur
  • orange juice
  • cranberry juice

Pour the liquors into a pint glass with ice. Then fill with equal parts orange and cranberry juices. Place a shaker lid on top and give the drink two good shakes. Strain into a second ice filled pint glass and enjoy.

Tomorrow: One of the most important items in a bartender’s tool kit.

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