I haven't seen a cocktail animals in years...and honestly, haven't thought about them for years either. Until the other day when I found myself at Kona Club tiki bar in Oakland with some friends and my drink came served to me with a little plastic pink elephant alongside the required paper umbrella. Surprisingly, the sight of this cocktail animal stopped me in my tracks and immediately brought me back to childhood. Yes childhood. No, I wasn't an underage drunk and my parents weren't big drinkers either. So what gives? And then it hit me...as a child my mom had this big metal cookie tin (a red animal crackers one I believe!) just filled to the brim with every colorful cocktail animal and adornment you could imagine. Blue monkey? Of course! Green lion? Tens of them! Red mermaid? Definitely. Wow did I love playing with that tin of cocktail animals as a child...likely having no idea what they were really for until I got older and started hanging them from our glasses around the dinner table for fun.
So as I sat in that dark tiki bar...a lifetime removed from lying on the floor in my parents living room playing with a tin of cocktail animals it stuck me. Sometimes the greatest joys in life are about the littlest details. As I sipped on my tropical drink the fact that there was a yellow giraffe partially poking me in the face (ok, ok...I was on drink two and had moved on from the pink elephant) brought my intense joy. Because it triggered such a simple, happy memory that I didn't even know I had. So much so that I continued to play with and think about those cocktail animals for the rest of my Sunday and they continue to happily sit perched on the bar in my kitchen as I type. Ah, the simple things.
So next time you're having a party or even just feeling festive (or the opposite and need some cheering up!), try adding a few cocktail animals to your drink and enjoy your own little dose of happiness. Tropical tiki drinks entirely optional.
Now to go pester my mom to see if she still has that tin of cocktail animals...I need to grow my budding happiness collection!