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Cocktail Chatter

No Sun Up in the Sky: Dark and Stormy

Lifestyle by Ed Sikov (From GayCalgary® Magazine, September 2011, page 29)
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"Old Storrrr-my! Old Storrrr-my!" Craig was insufferable. But he was so perfectly Santana that I laughed despite myself. "Shut up!" I begged, but that only spurred him on.

All was not well. Last Sunday afternoon, Sammy blurted out something horrifically specific about my having shtupped Jack Fogg after the four of us – Jack, Sammy, Dan, and me – had spent a perfectly delightful French-sex-farce weekend together during which everyone but Dan knew about mon petit bout a derriere avec Jacques le Brouillard. Well, I suppose it wasn’t so delightful for Dan, who was humiliated. He packed up and left while I was still at the beach and drove home alone. (I respect his rage, and I’m totally at fault and all that, but couldn’t he at least have driven me back to the city?)

"I’m making the cocktails tonight," Craig said after crowing the final syllable of the wretched "Stormy." "It’s all the rage. Wanna know what it’s called?" This was obviously a set-up.

"What?" I spat.

"The Dark and Storrrr-my. Old Storrr-my!"

"Piss off," I snarled and headed upstairs, inwardly marveling at his talent.

I’d actually had my first Dark and Stormy during the week at Bar Henry, a wonderful place on Houston Street in the Village. Jon, the hunky bartender (blond, cute, middle-weight wrestler’s body, frat-boy-turned-MBA-turned-chic-bar-investor, tragically straight), talked me into trying one. Made of dark rum and ginger beer, it wasn’t the sort of drink I usually order, but Jon swore by it, and since I was dazzled by the thick tuft of light blond hair poking out of his open collar, I tried one. It was perfect for a night of guilt, shame and solitude – spicy-sweet and refreshing, the ginger beer’s fizz cutting through the dark rum’s thickness.

I returned from my pout before dinner and made my own Dark and Stormy. Or two. Actually, four. I was plastered from the rum and bursting at the seams from all the ginger beer when Dan stomped in. "It’s my house, too," he said without glancing in my direction and headed for the unoccupied guestroom off the kitchen. We call it the ABD – short for the Ann B. Davis Suite, in honor of Alice from The Brady Bunch, who lived in a similar place. (Question: If the man named Brady was an architect, why did all six kids have to share one bathroom?) He threw his briefcase and backpack on the ABD’s single bed and slammed the door.

Craig made dinner that night – fettucine Alfredo, two loaves of garlic bread, no vegetables and a giant-size bag of Oreos. Paolo and Chipper both gasped at the carbs-‘n’-fat menu but ate their share anyway. Dan was so theatrically wrathful that nobody dared talk. Just as Craig ripped open the Oreos, the sky opened too, and we were pounded by a frighteningly intense shoreline thunderstorm. You know you’re in big trouble when nature itself turns against you in a rage.

The Dark and Stormy

Dark rum

Ginger beer

Lime wedge for garnish (optional)

Pour as much chilled ginger beer as you like into a glass with some ice cubes in it, then float the dark rum on top. Or, if you’re on the outs with your boyfriend, pour a large quantity of dark rum over ice and add a splash of ginger beer to the top.

From the Mailbag: ‘The Escondido Surprise’

I never hear from readers – the folks Norma Desmond describes in Sunset Boulevard as "those wonderful people out there in the dark." So I was glad to get a message from "Joey from Denver." Here’s his note, quoted with his permission:

Dear Ed: I love your column, even though I think you’re a crud for cheating on Dan. How can you risk throwing away a good man for an asshole (literally!)? Anyway, I’m not writing to scold but rather to share a recipe. I call it ‘the Escondido Surprise.’ It’s basically a gimlet with emotional problems.

I’m an IT guy for a financial company in Denver, where I grew up. Fifteen or so years ago, my parents retired to Escondido, California. Escondido’s website describes the place as follows: "Settled in a valley in the coastal mountains of Southern California, Escondido – which means hidden in Spanish – lies 18 miles inland and 100 miles south of Los Angeles. Surrounded by avocado and citrus groves, Escondido is a vibrant community with just the right mix of small town friendliness and big-city buzz.’ I describe it as ‘hell on earth, with a stinking mix of deadly heat and Reagan-worshipping cretins," but anyway....

I just moved my parents out of their trailer. Neither of them is in good health anymore, and my older sister, Julie, found them a "retirement apartment," which is to say a one-stop-shopping residence that will see them through daily check-ins by nurses’ aides to hospice care. The Escondido Surprise is the concoction I mixed after shipping my parents along with 12 boxes of clothes, horrible tchotchkes (note: Yiddish for "worthless crap") and diabetes supplies to Seattle in Julie’s SUV.  It sounds dire, but it’s actually a huge relief to know they’ll have emergency pull-cords in every room.

In the back of a cabinet was a bottle of Beefeater with enough left for one drink. I found a yellow lime on the ground on the side of the trailer, and as I picked it up, I heard Phyl, the newly lonely next-door neighbor, bark, "Take ‘em all, I don’t care!" I grabbed three more and squeezed the juice into a glass with the gin. The stone-like sugar at the bottom of an ancient box wouldn’t kill me, so I smashed it on the counter with my shoe (hygienically wrapped in an unused trash bag) and randomly poured some in the glass. I pried some brownish ice chips off bottom of the freezer and gave it all a couple rounds with my index finger. Surprise! It was delicious – the perfect cocktail with which to say good riddance to Escondido and hello to the next phase of my family’s life.

I don’t know if this is funny or pathetic, but you can use it in your column if you want.

– Your faithful reader, Joey

Well, Joey, New York supermarket limes are green, our icemaker produces clear ice, and our sugar isn’t clumped, but otherwise I duplicated your recipe, and it was terrific. Here’s to you and your folks, Joey. Having gone through this myself, I can tell you: it isn’t pathetic. It’s an act of love.

The Escondido Surprise

Beefeater gin

Fresh or bottled lime juice, to taste

Sugar to taste

Ice, any color

Pour gin over possibly funky ice, add lime juice and sugar, stir with your index finger and drink while pondering your own journey to the grave.(GC)

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