Cocktails of Fame and Legend.
Anton M Miller
Like so many of my...articles? Stories? Let us call them tales. So - like so many of my tales, this one revolves around a party. As such, I feel it has to be mentioned that I have been asked why parties feature so heavily within my life, even by fellow hedonists. The answer is actually none to clear, even to myself or those who would be me.
As near as I can reckon, on those hellishly sober mornings after the morning-after, it comes down to two facts - one: I am well paid to do as I please, providing that these texts like that you now read arrive on time; and two...is where I have a problem.
I know that there is a reason for my lifestyle beyond the obvious (point one, aforementioned) but damnation on me if I could understand it. Which is all beside the point (look you can see it - the point is still blunt at the moment, unmentioned to the point of nebulosity, so it's easy to compare it with another, cleaner point such as the one raised in this introductory paragraph of no particular reason).
The point, as it is about to be honed to, is cocktails. Cocktails rarely arise at parties and this is through no effort of my own, or anyone else I believe.
It just happens.
Sure, rum and coke, bourbon and dry, gin and tonic all make appearances, but when was the last time you saw a 'Sex On The Beach' (either version) or a 'Flaming Bar' (admittedly hard, without the bar of it's title) or even the ever popular and hated 'Cactus Flower'?
And so with this in mind, I set out to change the track of our nation's parties, rub the point of this tale against a wetted stone and use the edge thusly gained to threaten the drinkers to our glorious new future. Or somesuch.
A friend of mine, commonly known as John and his Hair was a great believer in cocktails, always ready to mix whatever ingredients he could find into a drink that had to be seen and tasted to be believed. John and his Hair is a rarity to be sure. Even more impressive than this was that he didn't just mix cocktails, he created them, he spawned them, he...I can't think of the word, but it involves a lot of care to detail (you know the word I mean, I'm sure).
John and his Hair is the sort of person who will speak of the difference gained in using the convex side of a spoon versus the concave when layering drinks, then demonstrate it to the disbeliever, of which there is always one.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying the art of cocktails is gone, and that John and his Hair is part of a dying breed. But I see too many barmen (and women of course - all due respect to the fairer sex) who literally throw a cocktail together -
"A cocksucking cowboy? Coming right up!"
Splash, Slosh, Glop and a groan from the drinking connesieur witnessing the massacre of what should have been a simple drink.
Dodgy cocktails have become almost the flavour of the month lately - no more beer or straight vodka, it's cowboys, fruit tingles and illusions all round now. But while they reign at the bar, there is very little place for them at a party. And we were determined to change all that.
The party I was planning (or helping to grow - see Parties alive! by Anton M Miller) that was to make the great change was going to be the biggest I had hosted since my eighteenth birthday - an even to be remembered, I'm sure (actually, I'm not to sure. Embarrassing as it is, I have forgotten most of that singular party).
Invitations were made, alcohol was purchased, barman's books were consulted and the house was shifted around (cleaning isn't the right word, but that's another tale).
A pair of disused washing machines were gained to be filled with ice and used as storage bins for bottles during the party.
Then the time was upon us.
The washing machines were filled, the snacks laid out and the strength of this party stocked. The secret, I reasoned, to a cocktail oriented party, was a bar. So we had acquired a bar and set it up under the clothesline in the backyard. The party began with it's usual slow build up of inertia, people trickling slowly in until the noise began.
The noise is yet another tale, but is basically the point where there are enough people for the host to start the music and everyone feels the need to shout over it, then over each other sic ad strepens. The noise usually begins about ten seconds after the music, officially starting at the peak volume of the party, from which point it slowly fades throughout the party.
It appeared that my idea was working in some small manner, people were drinking a majority of cocktails rather than beer and spirits, somehow sensing the vibe. I should note that I'm no fool - I knew I had no chance of changing the nation's opinion on cocktails with one party, this was merely part of the overall plan.
There would be more parties to follow in a similar theme, in different cities as well. Also, the text you now read is being distributed as we speak, to educate one and all. It is a long process but it will pay off one day I'm sure.
But despite all my hopes, the party had it's own ideas and brought reinforcements in the form of a carload of beer. Things didn't look good. Hoping to salvage the few remnants of the original feeling that would give my idea a point that would be visible at a later date, I embarked on the journey of the gin-bottle cocktail. Birthday at my nineteenth birthday party, the gin-bottle cocktail is what it sounds like.
I always have an emergency bottle of gin around my living quarters and I rushed to procure it. Returning to the bar, I instructed John and his Hair to mix me an evilly sinister cocktail of epic proportions. True to form John and his Hair began labouring over his creation, taking considerable time to fill the bottle, layer by layer, pouring between glasses, lighting this, snuffing that, pouring something else into a spoon to decant into the bottle (an old tradition I think - large cocktails have to have something poured over a spoon).
Eventually, the masterpiece was created. At my insistence, John and his Hair topped the bottle with a brightly coloured paper umbrella and a straw, a vital part of the gin-bottle cocktail. I could digress into a hellish tirade about the oddness of the paper umbrella in any situation, but why bother? There's nothing can be said to make that topic any more sensible. I held the bottle aloft and admired the play of colours through the heavily textured glass.
The gin-bottle cocktail has few competitors...
I walked nonchalantly over to the fire and took my seat. Of course, my drink was noticed and as this was the point of the exercise - to have the cocktail recognized as a means to inspire others - I was well happy. But there was little else I could do, the noise had subsided, the alcohol was running low and everyone was too wasted to go for supplies - we had reached the impass.
No further progress would be made towards the cause tonight, but I was already planning other parties to follow in the march of progress.
We had taken the first step and I could feel the vibe already beginning to spread, no doubt there would be a percentage of the party goers who would remember the odd twist of this get together and bring it up at their next gatherings.
The seed was planted in the collective consciousness.
I turned to the drunk beside me and asked "How has your night been?"
She barely glanced at me to slur "Alcoholic" before returning her gaze to the rapturous fire.
I nodded and mumbled "When you're up to your waist in cocktails, it helps to remember..." I let the words fade into the night as the fire entrapped me. Raising the straw to my mouth, I took a sip.
Delicious of course.
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