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There is a bar a few blocks down from our apartment in The Plateau, which is Montreal’s Park Slope or maybe Cobble Hill, that embodies everything this city doesn’t get about the art of drinking. For starters, its name is Bar Scoop. I like to call it Bar Le Scoop because it’s funnier, but my point is: Who wants to drink at a place called Scoop? This isn’t an ice cream parlor or a T-shirt neckline or, like, some little whippersnapper-squirt-neighbor-kid. (“Heya, Scoop!” It is a problem if your bar’s name makes me want to toot out a “Heya!”)
Folks, O patient folks, cherished blog-reading folks: Mea culpa runneth over.
I am sorry I have not posted in so long. I was busy moving out of the country, then resettling in my new one. The PhoBlograpHusband will be starting his Ph.D. in musicology at McGill University this week (location: sunny Montreal, Canada), which I suppose means that in a few years his proper title will be Ph.D.oBlograPh.D.usband.
Tragically, this life upheaval included a metaphorical man-overboarding of our booze supply, in the literal form of a “Drink Us Out of House and Homeland” farewell party we held for our NYC friends at the end of July. Like most immigration policies, Canada’s rules and regs on bringing booze into the country change with every website you consult and infoline you call, but best we could tell, the first bottle per person is on the house; after that, all subsequent bouteilles are taxed at 100 percent their retail cost. Merde!
Of course, the one time I am so besotted by my own cocktail invention that I vaingloriously choose to name the damn thing after myself — the one time I do that, of course I encounter practically that exact cocktail not once but twice within the same week.
Why, the chances of such a coincidence are nearly as preposterous as the obtuse grandeur with which I declare: TO HELL WITH ALL THE OTHERS, IT IS I WHO HAS INVENTED THE GREATEST COCKTAIL EVER THOUGHT UP BY MAN — OR WOMAN, BUT ESPECIALLY MAN!!
Let me back up.
And now for something completely self-glorifying!
In between blog posts here, I (and society at large) force myself to actually write for money. Sometimes, it’s actually even fun! Like when I spent the bulk of 2010 happily employed as “Fairy GodWriter” to entrepreneur and SavvyAuntie.com founder Melanie Notkin during the researching, writing and editing of her first book, Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide For Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids — a book which, ahem, happens to come out today.
Is the book awesome? Yes, it is, in that even if you have no interest in changing poopy diapers, it will make you believe that changing a poopy diaper would actually be fun. Is the book not just Auntie-savvy, but cocktail-savvy? Indeed, it is that, too, as it contains a pair of cocktail recipes courtesy of yours truly, perfectly geared to the woman who loves afternoon outings with someone else’s little ones as much as she cherishes the well-earned cocktail she treats herself to once she’s back home in her un-babyproofed lair.
Why did it take thirty-nevermind years of life for me to discover the Presbyterian?
A few months ago, a gaggle of us went to Little Branch, one of the elder statesmen of the New York/pre-Prohibition style/pay-$14-for-a-cocktail-and-beg-for-more temples of cocktailing. Little Branch’s menu does things a little differently that other bars of its ilk — in fact, let’s diverge for a paragraph or two and talk a bit about that, the organization of cocktail menus. (God, what a cocktail dork I am; this stuff actually excites me.)
I hadn’t had a Walnut Park in something like two-and-a-half years. During my last year in St. Louis — which was also my last year at The Royale, which was also the shittiest year of my life — I’d drink many Walnuts Parks after clocking out from my shitty day shift, sitting by myself at the bar because I didn’t have anywhere else to go.
A fun perk of being a cocktail blogger is receiving tipsy texts from friends informing me of what they’re drinking at that very moment. That’s how I heard about The Collective, via a particular text that wound up kicking off an early-Friday, at-home happy hour for me, as it was sent by a teacher friend who starts a-drinkin’ soon after the three o’clock bell.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got issues with scotch. Besides the fact that I drank too much of it in my youth, I really never think about it for cocktails because, you know, why not bourbon? But the Collective’s ingredients, as texted to me, seemed like something that my bartending acumen and my palate could handle. I love that its components are all non-fussy — no need for a special trip to the liquor store, Other Friends Who Have Texted Or Otherwise Communicated With Me To Complain About Making Special Trips To The Liquor Store!
The Ward Eight has been around forever, yet few people have heard of it. What’s doubly strange about this is, it’s an incredibly palatable cocktail. It’s basically a whiskey sour with more juice in it. In fact, in his critique of the drink for Esquire, David Wondrich wrote, “the sharp tang of the rye blends just so with the bite of the lemon and the rounded sweetness of the orange, leaving absolutely no taste of liquor. In short, this drink lies like a politician.”
Bourbon, paterfamilias of the Martelorre’s alchemy, became a friend to me in 2005 — not coincidentally the year I began bartending. Compared to all the foolish mixed drinks I’d ordered in my youth, bourbon tasted like maturity’s reward. Adult fun, I used to call it. It spoke to parts of me I hadn’t yet gotten to know — a spirit that seemed to be a part of mine.