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Cocktail Chatter

The Pomegranate Cocktail and The Virtue of Pricey Liquor

Lifestyle by Ed Sikov (From GayCalgary® Magazine, February 2011, page 29)

"I will! I will! I-I wi-ill!" I sang wildly off-key in the shower, where only the Korean family next door and the lesbian phlebotomist with the Phyllis Diller wig below us could hear me. Also Bruce, who was making honking noises outside the bathroom door. Didn’t bother me. In crisis therapy, I accepted Craig and Kyle’s affair. Therapist Gary and I aired the musty roots of my breakdown, and eventually the stink of emotional rot receded. I’d been half right: My puke-green jealousy came from my mother, my dick and my creationist-like denial of aging. Having unearthed them, I achieved enlightenment. "Om shanti namaste"! This Nirvana was admittedly eccentric. I stopped swiping sleeping pills from Dan’s supposedly secret stash. (Even cretins start with the boyfriend’s jockstrap drawer for the drugs, or the money, or that strumpet’s phone number.) As for stewing over Craig and jerking off to filthy thrilling images of Kyle every day? I wiped my hands of them (in Kyle’s case, literally).

Facts: I’m 53 and have a loving partner and a fine life. No reason to ruin it over some perfect-assed boy with the shoulders of Apollo. My constant put-downs of Craig had to stop. I ceased fishwife-screeching at Dan. But how could I prove my shiny new peace with my buddy Gargantua screwing my tight-as-a-2(x)ist-sport-brief dreamboy?

Solution: cocktails and dinner. Those wretched margaritas Craig adores were considered and rejected; shanti namaste had its limits. Still, a fruity cocktail for Craig would show off my fabulous new generosity of spirit, which was entirely absent during mein psychoticschen episode.

Cosmically, the very next day a cooking blog featured a pomegranate cocktail. The recipe was vile – more suitable for pomegranate Jujubes. Craig would love it. The insane but inspiring recipe called not only for making your own fresh pomegranate juice (oh, squeeze my ass!) but for adding pomegranate molasses. What? Waltz into Costco and inquire as to the whereabouts of the pomegranate molasses? I’d sooner slap on an Elizabeth I wig and ask for the mead department. I adapted the recipe for those of us who are not deranged.

Lo: it worked! We all enjoyed a marvelous evening. The drinks were luscious – a little tart, a little sweet and quite refreshing. Craig had three. I had one. Dan was relieved. Craig did a brief impersonation of Dolores Del Rio, which even I found a bit rarified, but Kyle beamed with pride, though Señorita Del Rio’s identity escaped him. We adjourned to a steak joint, where Craig polished off a 24-oz. porterhouse, and I made no jokes. This boy was back!

At which point Kyle piped up: "Um, hey guys? Robbie can’t find a place for next summer. Nobody else will put up with him. Can he stay with us?" Craig responded in the voice of Helen Lawson: "So Satan’s come crawling back to Broadway! Well, Broadway doesn’t take to rudeness and fire-red treasure trails!" But we needed the rent money, so I supposed we’d have to.

Pomegranate Cocktail

2 parts Absolut
1/2 part Cointreau
3 parts bottled pomegranate juice
* "Really" Simple Syrup (optional)

Pour Absolut and Cointreau into a pitcher. Add pomegranate juice. Stir. Taste. Add 1/4 tsp. simple syrup if you like. Pour over ice.

*Put equal parts sugar and water into a jar, seal it tight and shake until the sugar dissolves.

The Virtue of Pricey Liquor

"You drink too much." This was Dan’s opener at dinner the night after I passed out from too many Old Fashioneds. I reacted with instant hostility, since I’d spent the afternoon making his favorites: braised pork shoulder with parsnips and white wine; brussels sprouts slaw; and a tarte tatin.

But before I sniped back something harsh – like "piss off" – I considered his point of view. It’s painful to admit it: he was right.

"It’s an occupational hazard," I attempted. "I have a column to write."

"That’s a lame excuse, and you know it. It was terrifying to find you like that – unconscious on the floor!" "People are said to be ‘asleep’ at night – not ‘unconscious,’" I replied with futile indignation, since I had been, in fact, unconscious.

"All right," I sighed as I placed the platter of aromatic pork in front of him like an offering to an angry deity – Athena, say, the goddess of both warfare and reason. "I’ll cut back," I promised.

"Way back," he ordered from Olympus as he skewered a large chunk of moist pork, a slab of cooked meat to which I humiliatingly related.

And so I offer this column on single-malt scotch. Since they’re what my great aunt called "dear," meaning costly, you’re a fool to gulp it. Even I, a professional drinker, can only have one shot a night. So I drink less. Bank-breaking liquor: a solution to Dan’s concern.

For many of us, scotch is an acquired taste. I nearly spat out my first sip. Then again I was 10 at the time. Rum tasted good then, and so did bourbon. But scotch tasted like somebody set fire to my mother’s burlap sack of peat moss and somehow made rotten moonshine out of the smoke.

I grew up. Now I love the intensely smoky, peaty kind of scotch that you can only get in single malts. Given the choice, most poor suckers go for the bland over the exceptional or unusual, so blended scotches dominate, though they all taste basically the same. But single malts vary greatly. I’m the kind of guy who goes for ultra-spicy food, high-cocoa dark chocolate, and certain out-there sexual practices which shall go unelaborated, so I prefer single malts that are heavily smoky, or peaty, or both.

Oban and Talisker are great single malts, but this time I opted for Tormore. I chose it because the liquor store guy boasted that his Tormore was a single-cask, special reserve made solely for his emporium. That brought out the essential snob in me, so I bought it. At home, alone with (as Gollum would say) "my precious" (Dan had flown off to Toronto for meeting of his medical geek society) I sipped my single shot – neat, of course – for about an hour and a half. Tormore’s first taste is a sharp alcohol tang, which turns into a rich smoke in the mouth before softening. It finishes as though you had just smoked a rare cigar. Perfection.

Tormore Single Malt scotch

Face facts: Unless you live in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Boston, you’ll have to order most small-distillery single malts online. If your state forbids such imports, move. You never liked it there anyway, did you? The Puritanical bastards

Ed Sikov is the author of Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis and other books about films and filmmakers.(GC)

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