Saturday, January 11, 2014

In which I prove I am not a minion of Satan

Image credit: Jeremiah Lambert
 Okay, that's a pretty heavy opener, I admit. I should start by explaining that I am not a fire-breathing practitioner of any particular philosophy. I don't have an agenda other than to perhaps make you curious enough to read the Rollo Hemphill series of comic novels.
But I have some objective proof, I think, that I'm not working for the Dark Side.
There are two - precisely two - times in my adult life when I have been violently ill from drinking alcohol. I don't mean upset or hung over. I'm talking protracted retching. Sorry for the image, but read on, it's a fact in evidence. And I don't mean my initiations to drinking - yes, I was a frat guy back in the day and found out rapidly and in the presence of an embarrassed date that you don't consume a mixture of types of alcohol at the same party.
No, the times I was very sick had to do with one specific type of drink, and I was no longer a youngster. When I worked in Detroit, I had a boss, a "silver-tongued devil," and one of my responsibilities as VP to his CEO was to buy him lunch almost daily. And we had drinks before lunch, wine with lunch, and postprandial brandies. We even got in trouble once with the bartender for pouring cognac in a spoon with a sugar cube, lighting it, and promptly dunking the flaming thing in our creamed coffees. (It's called a Cafe Royale, and totally against the fire code in any restaurant or public place.)
I know this story is rambling, but I'm getting there. Mr. Silver's favorite drink was a Perfect Manhattan. I think he liked ordering it so he could ask for a Perfect Man, which is indeed what he imagined he was. A shot of bourbon, a splash of sweet vermouth, and splash of dry vermouth, and a twist of lemon - on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass. Now, if you're feeling adventurous, skip the lemon peel and plop in one or two anchovy olives. Sweet and sour!
Okay, this is a drink to pop the lid off your brain.
Both times I was violently sick it was from sucking down the Perfect Man. But not every time.
I have since figured it out.
Some vermouths, not all, contain the plant extract wormwood. Those brands are, I understand, European.
Wormwood is toxic to the righteous. Look it up.

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