In his popular — albeit questionable and somewhat callow — 1980 novel Still Life With Woodpecker, Tom Robbins prescribes the following three ways one can employ to Make Love Stay:
1. Tell love you are going to Junior’s Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if love stays, it can have half. It will stay.
2. Tell love you want a memento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a moustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay.
3. Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be alright. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning.”
For those of you too far outside of the New York tri-state area and/or not particularly inclined to vaguely appropriate a grab-bag of spiritual “practices,” or uh, urinate out the window, I would like to offer a fourth — hopefully more practical — suggestion to compel love to stay: Bring love a delicious cocktail while it is in the shower getting ready for a night out. Extend your arm out with a closed but sincere smile, like you would if you were handing it a bouquet of flowers. Tell them to take their time, and when they’re ready, you’ll call the cab to take you both to dinner. Love will stay.
If it’s already the next morning, and love is hungover with the day off, then a tonic gently placed in their purview as they rinse last night’s cigarette smell out of their hair will be an act of pure poetry better than any saccharine tune on the radio. Love will think you are brilliant and it will stay (at least through the rest of the weekend).
I have a cocktail that I think is superb for this bewitching endeavour. The Intro to Aperol is a dazzling drink, perfect for stimulating the appetite and inspiring the heart. It demands nary a syrup, swizzle, or garnish; only your good intentions and a god’s honest shake. Love will love it.
But of course, you know love best, so this is only a suggestion. If you are unable to make a cocktail for whatever reason, do not let that keep you from lavishing love with a boozy rune. A frosty tall can or a flute filled gloriously to the brim with champagne can be equally magical and medicinal (and is a good reason to keep one’s fridge stocked with either or both).
Intro to Aperol (Audrey Saunders, Pegu Club, 2006)
- 2 hearty dashes of Angostura
- 20 ml lemon juice
- 55 ml Aperol
- 30 ml gin
- Optional: an orange twist
Pour all the ingredients into your shaker, then fill with ice when you are ready to shake. Seal your shaker and shake vigorously — this is no time to be demure — for a slow count of 15 seconds. Strain immediately into a chilled coupe and serve right away.
A note for my fellow cocktail enthusiasts: You may have noticed that the specs for the Intro to Aperol are a bit unusual — instead of adhering to a more standard sour format of 20 ml lemon, 20 ml modifier, and 50 ml spirit, the Aperol serves as both modifier and spirit. The originality of this recipe is a testament to its pioneering and tenacious creator, Audrey Saunders, owner of the widely regarded and sorely missed Pegu Club in NYC (which sadly closed in 2020).
Story goes that the talented and meticulous proprietor tested numerous iterations of the idea before painstakingly arriving at its final Goldilocks sweet-spot. I never had the pleasure of visiting the iconic institution and, if this beverage is any indication of its other offerings, then my regrets are obviously justified.