I celebrated a birthday yesterday, which always puts me in an odd state of mind. Nothing like that turning of the page to remind one of their own mortality. As I close in on a half century of mistreating myself on a reasonably epic scale it becomes harder and harder to deny that no matter how long the race, I am definitely on the back stretch approaching the turn for home. That’s alright of course, it’s the natural order of things, but I still have work to do and I am doing my best to hang around for the final act. So, in the spirit of unusual occurrences along the journey of indefinite length, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the Death Flip.
Don’t get carried away, I don’t plan on checking out anytime soon, in fact, I am making all kinds of moves to extend my time at the table, but I have wanted to make this drink and well, it is dramatic, isn’t it? This one was created by Chris Hysted-Adams at the Black Pearl in Melbourne, Australia. It originally appeared on the menu with the ominous description, “You don’t wanna meet this cocktail in a dark alley.” The ingredients were not listed and if you asked the bartender they would not share them with you, but the drink was a huge success. It makes sense, Chris said that once he settled on his three “barroom dare” main ingredients it took him a week of R&D to balance the components into this amazing elixir. Once he let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, this barroom dare of a drink’s popularity skyrocketed and it began to grace menus all over the world.
Grab your tins and pop in 1 ounce of blanco tequila, I chose some cheap Piedra Azul; 1/2 an ounce of Yellow Chartreuse, 1/2 an ounce of Jågermeister, a 1/4 ounce of simple syrup and 1 whole egg, sans shell, of course. Add ice and give that a good shake to the beat of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”, no matter how we try to dodge the blade. When those tins are good and cold, strain from one to the other and go for a second dry shake. When the spirit strikes you, strain into something awesome and grate a little fresh nutmeg on top for garnish and throw a crystal skull at the base for a little memento mori.
That is certainly unusual, and lovely. It’s herbal and complex with a bitter thing going on that belies its creamy texture and unassuming presentation. I did not expect to like this one as much as I do. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tequila, Jägermeister and chartreuse, but it appeals to me. That’s alright, somebody has got to look at things and ask that this cup pass from their lips, hopefully right on to mine.
I had a near death experience about a decade ago, the details aren’t any more important than the fact that I was never in any true danger, but I believed that I had moments to live, truly believed it, deep down, and I was surprisingly ok with that. It was a kind of wonderful moment to realize that when the chips were down, that I had a clean conscience. I was basically ok with the way I had lived my life up to that point and could look at taking that next step into the unknown with a certain sense of wonder and the only real regret was that I wouldn’t get to see the kid grow up and be there with Laura to help him become who he will be and I’d miss out on the rest of your stories, as well. It was life-changing in many ways and a great relief. Of course, I am still terrified of death. I have no desire to explore that undiscovered country, just yet, but I can’t help thinking about it. Especially around my birthday. You see, life has a way of granting odd wishes. I remember in 5th grade one of the kids in my PE class had a scar that ran the length of his face and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Seriously, he looked so badass. I am sure that he probably had different ideas about things, but I wished I had a cool scar, not necessarily on my face, but one people could see and know how tough I was. So, when I nearly lost my left arm a few years later I could not help but laugh, that life had given me that scar I always wanted. It would go on to give me several more that aren’t quite as visible, but I have always sort of believed, as irrational as it may be, that particular scar was a fulfilled wish, in a monkey’s paw-esque twist.
So, what has that got to do with my birthday and Willam Shakespeare? Well, he, allegedly, entered stage left and 52 years later made his exit, chased by a bear, both on April 23rd. I always thought that was super cool, to die on your birthday. One has to admit it has a certain symmetry, closing the circle of life and all. Ingrid Bergman did the same thing and it seemed to work out for her. Of course, the way my troubled mind works, I made the journey from a middle school kid being fascinated with a quirk of the calendar or bookkeeping to a middle aged kid who always gets a little nervous on his birthday, just in case I might have inadvertently wished my number up. It’s an irrational fear, as all the best ones are, but I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief on April 6. We have all lost a lot over the last year and not really been able to grieve in the ways we were accustomed to, so I have been a bit more morose than usual which made 49 a tougher number than it should have been. The good news is, we are here now and I am looking forward to making it though another year to cross that half century mark with y’all and then just running up the score after that; so stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends, we will get through this together cause I’ve got a job of work to do before that bear comes for me.