Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Pub Crawling: The Alembic

There is usually a white carnation in the Colonel’s buttonhole, and almost invariably, when he is seen in public, a beer glass in his right hand. For a period before lunch, which is customarily his first meal of the day, he devotes himself to gold gin fizzes, which are made with the yolk of the egg. During this process of remedial imbibition he is morose and does not appreciate company. “I met a villain last night,” he will say in explanation of his mood, “and he led me down the path of dalliance Gambrinian.” If the bartender in setting down the shaker bangs it against the wood, the jangled Colonel will say, “Doctor, don’t cut too deep! I have been riding the magic carpet.”
—A.J. Liebling, The Honest Rainmaker

Drinking in the afternoon is one of the great pleasures of the liquor lifestyle. I’m often too busy to indulge the taste these days, which is probably a good thing, but this has been one of those weekends. There was tiki night with friends and someone’s new test batch of bitters to try, resulting in a spirited march over hill and dale in the middle of the night from which I finally floated home at 4 o’clock the following morning, decks awash. And then a wedding the next day. It was hard to work up to anything like a serious state of mind today, so I wandered over to The Alembic shortly after noon for the hair of the dog. Timothy Zohn was behind the stick, and I knew right away that I was in good hands.

The first item on the menu to catch my eye was the rye-based Evergreen, another libation featuring Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur. I’m getting to like that stuff a lot. The Evergreen was fairly dry, refreshing, and as the menu said, bracing. Almost beer-like.

For the next drink, it wasn’t hard to decide. Timothy had made a summer punch with nectarines, raspberries, lime and mint, and I wasn’t about to pass that up. Light, elegant, a little bubbly, quaffable as a punch should be. Very quaffable.

Since I had been spending a little too much time riding the magic carpet, as the Colonel put it, I asked Timothy if he could produce a Gold Gin Fizz. It sounded sorta kill-or-cure but I was ready. If it had worked for the Colonel’s delicate condition, it seemed worth the risk. And it was. The Gold Gin Fizz could restore anyone. The egg yolk made it silky, the lime and the sugar did a dance with the gin, and the siphon brought it all together. The Colonel was a genius.

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