Terry wrote in email:
“Since there seems to be some interest in this article, perhaps a Lichtenbergian assignment might evolve from it. We could describe making or imbibing our most exotic drink and the circumstances surrounding it. And of course this would have to be written with a certain panache.”
He was referring of course to this article from the New York Times about the Old-Fashioned.
I have a model for our assignment, taken from Jigger, Beaker, & Glass: drinking around the world, by Charles H. Baker, Jr., originally published in 1931 as The Gentleman’s Companion: the exotic drinking book. This is from the foreword, in which he pooh-poohs the pale delights of Prohibition:
We also doubt if any lemonade social ever afforded a thrill like the moonlit night in Ceylon when we went to a Hollander friend’s beach bungalow out beyond Galle Face, where we swam in the blood-warm Indian Ocean and drank enough of his Flying Fish cocktails to do, and lay on the cool sand and listened to Tauber sing Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz on the gramophone.Â Then when we swam again we slipped out of our suits to make the water feel better, and finally, when it was very late indeed, we dressed and said goodnight and vowed eternal friendship to our host; then for precisely no reason at all dismissed our waiting carriage with a flourish of gross overpayment and walked all the way back in our evening clothes through a new quiet rain to the jetties and the motor launch, just in time to prevent one of our best American cruising friends from consummating bribery of the Quartermaster on the good ship RESOLUTE into letting him hoist a purchased baby elephant—whom he said was Edith, and over whom he politely held a Burmese parasol of scarlet oiled silk—from a hired barge onto the forward cargo hatch in a sling!
Marvelous stuff, and that’s just the forward. There follows a COMPANY OF 267 ASSORTED POTATIONS. Here he is talking about an actual drink:
THE RANGOON STAR RUBY, a Wonderful & Stimulating Cocktail from Lower-Burmah
In 1926 we disembarked in Burmah from a round-the-world ship, and spent several days there before hopping off to Calcutta in a little “Bibby” boat carrying a mess of Mohammedan pilgrims headed for Mecca as deck passengers, and who did all their own cooking right down there in plain sight. In Rangoon we joined up with several folk in the Strand bar of evenings to chin about the romantic Mandalay country far up the Irrawaddy River, and to talk over gems with Hamid and his brother from Colombo and Bombay, and to acquire a really fine zircon for someone else and a set of star sapphire dress studs for ourself. One American headed out on leave from certain ruby mining operations up-country told us he had invented himself a drink that everyone up at headquarters liked so well he was going to shout it to the world so that no man might be denied its virtues. He popped behind the bar before we could say “knife” and whipped up the following mixture which, due to its color, he had christened the Star Ruby.
Take 1 jigger of good cognac, 1/2 pony of cherry brandy, 1/2 pony of French vermouth, 2 dashes each of orange bitters and lemon phosphate, then for added flavour 1 tsp of kirsch, or 1/2 tsp of maraschino. Shake with finely cracked ice, pour into a wine glass leaving a little ice floating, and let fall 6 drops of grenadine in the center of this chilly expanse for the ruby color touch.
So now you have the flavour of it, hop to it!
This one is going to challenge me, I suspect. It’s not that I don’t believe myself to have an experience that is worthy of literary endeavor, but rather that I am unsure I am prepared to commit many/any of them to public record. I shall contemplate…