Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why saying "I'm just here for just one drink," guarantees you won't leave after just one

August 24

After finishing my drink at White Star I started walking up Essex. The weather was nice out and I wasn't really keen on trying to hop on an N or W train below Houston, so I figured a walk was in order. As Essex melted into Ave. A, I checked the time and saw that it was just turning into 11 pm. When I looked up from my phone I saw that I was now nearing 6th St. I paused for a quick second, looked back at my phone, shrugged and hung a left.

"Oh, you have to be kidding me," I thought as I pulled the door to Death and Company open. I only wanted one drink and the place was closing in an hour but it was still bursting at the seams. It's Sunday people. Don't any of you have jobs to get to in the morning?? Oh wait, that's why you are probably all here. Carry on then.

I got steered to the back bar to wait for a seat to open up. I waved hi to Damon Dyer who I hadn't seen since the reception party at Tales and had me mildly worried that New Orleans had devoured him whole.

As I sat down Alex Day came from behind the bar and jutted out his chin to show his week's progress for the Papa Doble Beard Off (thanks to everyone who commented and emailed with more info on this). I was impressed. And I say impressed, because if you have seen Alex in person you don't really think facial hair.

"Why does everyone keep saying that?" he asked later. "Is it disturbing that I have a beard?"

"No, noooo...well, I mean, I wouldn't say disturbing...just, you know, it's more, like, 'Hey, wow, he, like, grows beards too,' kind of thing," I offered.

"That's from a week of growing a beard," Damon said. Then pointing to his own chin he said, "This is from just a day of not shaving."

Damon's not taking part in the beard off, but he wasn't going to let an opportunity of trash talking go to waste.

Up until that point in time, I was still pretty certain I was only there for a drink. A drink. So I settled in with my Faithful Scotsman and went over my notes from the past week to begin laying out the Chicago blog entries.

Alex held out a jar to me. I looked at the bottle then at him, puzzled. "What is it?"

"Just straw taste it. Don't worry, it's not booze," he said.

I pulled out the straw sticking out of the top and gave a taste. It was a bit of ginger and acacia honey syrup that he had made for a drink he was working on for Allen & Delancey.

I wanted to try whatever that was in(drink two, if we're keeping count).

Alex whipped it up for me, using the syrup, Amaro, lemon juice and bourbon.

I took a sip. Alex asked me what I thought. I said "it's like fireworks," and that I'd explain later in this space, so here goes.

The best analogy I have for it is that it was sort of like fireworks. Specifically the kind that goes "boom!" then snap, crackles and pops sparkling trails. The boom part was coming from the lemon and the sweet and the bourbon, but then as I swallowed the ginger and honey was the snap, crackle and pop that fizzled.

Soon it was last call. Alex asked if I wanted anything before they stopped taking orders. Really if you put it that way I'd be rude to refuse. I said I'd have whatever he thought I should have and he mixed up another drink he was working on made with rye with Averna, amontillado sherry and a little bit of Benedictine and St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Now if we are to stick with the fireworks analogy, this one was more like that variety of fireworks where they sort of fluffily disintegrate into a "PFOOM, fssssh." More than having a flavor, when it hit my tongue it instantly was all scents (that's now three).

So, basically, I went from saying I was just stopping by to have a single drink to having three in about an hour. I thought walking in close to closing would spare me, but apparently not. One of these days I'm going to have just one. I won't give into peer pressure. It's going to happen.

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