It’s hard to believe we have been doing this for nearly a year now. Who would have known that when I made that first drink for my birthday in 2020, that we would still be here making daily drinks in 2021. There’s something to be said for that, foolish consistencies being what they are and whatnot. I’m gonna take a note from those early drinks and go short on the philosophizing and long on the drink making, so please won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Bywater.

When I hear that name I am immediately put in mind of the Shire and the favorite watering hole of the short of stature and hairy of foot, the Green Dragon Inn. For many years, we darkened the door of its real world counterpart in Murfreesboro with its amazing beer and mead selection, the “Flight of the Nazgul” featuring nine beers for mortal men and “Hobbits Only” bar for the wee folk. Sadly, they closed their doors for the last time recently. Of course, this drink would never have crossed their bar, since they did not serve hard liquor. This one was actually created pretty close to the real world’s Bywater, by Chris Hannah at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar in New Orleans. It seemed like a good birthday choice, since I recently acquired its hardest to find, in the states at least, ingredient, Amer Picon. More accurately, I tracked down a small bottle of the house made Amer Ticon from Atlanta’s Ticonderoga Club. I said I wasn’t going to ramble too much, so let’s get to the making and the tasting.

Grab your mixing pitcher and toss in 1 2/3 ounce of rum, it’s a special day so I went with my cherished Havana Club 7 year; 3/4 of an ounce of Amer Ticon, 1/2 an ounce of Green Chartreuse, 1/4 ounce of Velvet’s Falernum and 2 stabs of Peychaud’s Bitters. Add ice and give it a slow, reverent stir to the beat of Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I saw Your Face” which was Number 1 on the charts on this day 49 years ago when I made my own debut. When well chilled, strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a luxardo cherry.

This is every bit as good as I had hoped it would be. I am thankful to have found that Amer Ticon, so I could finally try this one. The rum makes a lovely base for those other super flavorful and complex ingredients. There is a lot going on here, the herbal elements form the chartreuse and the amaro really play well together, to the point I am not quite sure where one ends and the other begins and the falernum just ties it all together like the Dude’s rug. A wonderful drink, happy birthday to me, indeed.

On this day last year, I decided to make myself a Trinidad Sour and document it, since I could not go to Corsair. It would be another week or so before I would start making and writing about cocktails most every day, but that drink really was the kick off. Of course, I was much more concise in those early posts. What can I say, I don’t really have a plan, some days there are lots of words, other times I am only slightly less verbose. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me so far, reading these shouts into the darkness, offering kind words of support. It means a lot to me, really. The best I can tell, this marks our 340th drink together and I still have some gas in the tank, a bunch of drinks on my list of things to try and way more alcohol than any home bar should have, so we are going to keep going. Seriously, my home backbar now outstrips lots of real bars in quantity and quality. That’s ok, it’s good to have a hobby and a voice whenever there is something that needs saying. It has been quite the learning experience and I am eternally grateful for everyone who has helped along the way, with guidance or knowledge or ingredients or just a kind word to let me know that people are actually reading the words. Cause I get it, there are so many words. So before I turn off the lights and go grab some cake, let me also throw a huge thank you to Laura and Liam for their support, encouragement, constant help and forbearance as the collection of ingredients, tools, glasses, cocktail books, gadgets and gizmos galore has steadily grown to overtake every spare bit of space. For their patience when I had to stop what we were doing in order to make a drink, take pictures and then write for however long it took to find the words. Like usual, they make all the sacrifices and I get all the credit, but I could not, and would not want to, do this without them. So thank you to them and to anyone who has bothered to read all the way through, it has been a hell of a ride and I look forward to the next chapter. So, stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.