The poet once said, “Strawberries are great, oysters are amazing and they are both aphrodisiacs, but you’re probably not getting lucky if you mix them together.” I’d counter that if you could accomplish that task, you were relying on skill rather than luck anyway, but that is another story, entirely. The point is, not everything was made to go together. Sure, Reese’s got it right and made it look easy. The guy who invented the pickleback shot had a harder road, but still pulled it off. Today, we are going to experiment with a cocktail that combines two of my favorite drinks. Will we be successful? Well, let’s find out as we stand and make The Bitter Last Word.
Last week we were sitting at the bar, having a little shop talk, as one does. Sharing tips, talking about books we’d read recently, you know, the usual. It was well after last call and there were still way too many folks hanging out on the deck, so when they fired up the final countdown playlist, we launched into a whole new discussion of closing time rituals. That reminded me of the book “Last Call” by Brad Parsons, a really interesting dive into different bars and philosophies explored by asking bartenders what they would make if they knew they could have just one more drink before checking out. It was fascinating to see the thought process behind their selections and to hear their end of shift practices. Its a diverse conversation and I recommend the book. Not only is it full of great recipes, but, like usual, the stories behind them are more interesting than the drinks.
As, “Good Night, Sweetheart” played through the speakers we went around choosing our philosophical “one last time” cocktails. I was surprised at some of the selections and even more surprised when it came my turn to find that what I really wanted was a little more time. Like usual, I tried to keep my options open, and chose two, my beloved Trinidad Sour or a classic The Last Word. Either of those would be a fine glass to raise to the world before exiting stage left, chased by a bear, presumably. Over the weekend, I stumbled upon this recipe that seems to sit right between those two, so let’s make it and see if it is the answer to my indecisiveness.
This is an equal parts drink, so grab your tins and pop in 3/4 of an ounce each of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, Chartreuse, freshly squeezed lime juice and Angostura bitters. Simple enough, right? Add some ice and give it a good shake to the beat of Lyle Lovett’s “Closing Time“. When your tins are good and cold, strain into a chilled Nick & Nora and float a dehydrated lime wheel on top.
First off, I like this drink. Secondly, I do not like this drink nearly as well as the two other more different drinks that it combines. That heavy dose of angostura is always fun, but here it seems to fight a little too much with the Chartreuse. Not that it is out of balance, they just seem to pull the wrong notes out of each other. To be fair, there is nothing in the world wrong with this drink and I will make it again. In this case, the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s ok.
So, that’s not a “last call ever” drink for me. I’ll stand by my original choices or maybe play the odds and order a pitcher of Corsair daiquiris figuring that would give me a little more time to savor the drink. Cause it’s not about the drink, it is about the company you get to share it with and when the time comes, I know I’ll want just a few moments more with family and friends. Since, none of us are likely to get that bonus time, why not go ahead and start savoring it a little more, right now? Carve some time out of your busy schedule to call old friends, to have coffee with your mom, go fishing with your kid. Each one of us only has so many sunsets left, and that is what makes them wonderful and precious. So make a drink, step outside with someone you love or give them a call and watch that evening sun together as it sinks low in the sky. We only get to go around once on this ride, and just like a drink, it is so much better when you share it with others. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.