I’m currently sitting in the dining room of my friend’s Red Hook apartment, at a stately and beautiful walnut table that has been sullied by the trappings of my “productivity”; laptop, papers, books I probably won’t get around to reading, a busted-but-still-functioning set of headphones, crumpled receipts and a large, partially used sheath of paper towel — not even ripped at the perforated seam — that I refuse to throw away in case I need it. My hair has the distinct coif of the unwashed and dishevelled. I’m wearing a long-sleeve New York Knicks shirt that my friend let me borrow since the weather has cooled a bit, and I, of course, despite the oversized Herschel monstrosity I brought with me on my trip, managed to not pack in accordance with the weather’s habit to change. It’s a special edition shirt, he tells me. I nod dumbly. I know exactly nothing about sports. I thought he was a Mets fan.
Me and this plastic flamingo across the table from me have been staring at each other for the past 10 minutes. The stray observer might note that the inanimate bird’s unblinking, dust-covered oggly eye seems to be conveying a more earnest expression than the living, breathing object of its gaze. The flamingo does not have a name (that I am aware of), but it’s perched and leaning haphazardly in a capacious planter that is home to a large and jovial Spathiphyllum named George.
George has been alive for quite some time and has seen some shit. The move to Red Hook from Carroll Gardens thirteen years ago; Hurricane Sandy; the next-door neighbour who forgot to water them while my friend was away for three weeks in the middle of summer. Last night, while Ida was raging its devastating and terrifying tirade across New York, George and the flamingo seemed nonplussed; their existence unaltered. I could take a page out of their book. Meanwhile, now, the sun is shining, the sky is blue (the weather and its habit to change), a car just drove by with its speaker subs working overtime; perhaps another cue for me worth taking.
But although I, too, had the absurd fortune of being left mostly alone by Ida, I am not as unflappable as my table mates, or as rebounding as the outside. Today, I have a life hangover, and the fog of it is thick.
A Fog Cutter? How about a Fog-Dweller.
I’m sure most of you have heard about the Fog Cutter: a Tiki cocktail staple invented by Trader Vic around World War II that floats cream sherry on top of an unyielding mixture of citrus juice, orgeat, and three different liquors (usually white rum, brandy, and gin). But it would be uncouth and insincere (and exceed the allotted ingredients for this column) for me to feign any ability to cut through any kind of fog. Blind leading the blind and all.
So instead, here’s another drink. Let’s call it the Fog-Dweller. I haven’t had access to a decent aged agricole rhum in two years, so I intend to take advantage of it while I can. Same goes for the gorgeous pebble crushed ice that the bar next door is gracious enough to give me. My Red Hook host also happens to be the owner of one of my most favourite tiki mugs, a discontinued lava cup that he can’t be persuaded to sell to me but will let me use while I’m here. A drink composed of little things that make me feel a little better.
Give it a try, if you’d like:
- 30 ml lime juice
- 15 ml Giffard’s Apricot Liqueur (I must insist you use Giffard’s, as it is delightful)
- 10 ml cane syrup (or simple)
- 60 ml aged Agricole rhum (I won’t insist, but I highly recommend Rhum JM)
- Nutmeg for grating.
Put all the ingredients (except the nutmeg) into a tumbler, and give it a good swirl to incorporate the ingredients. Fill a tiki mug (or whatevs, work with what you’ve got) with crushed or cracked ice, and strain a quarter of the liquid mixture into it, then tamp down the ice with the bottom of the tumbler. (The liquid will melt the ice a bit, creating more room in the glass for you to achieve maximum crushed ice capacity.)
Add more ice and strain the rest of the liquid into the ice-filled glass. Top with more ice, and then top with a generous dusting of freshly grated nutmeg. Make it snow — or fog — it will give the presentation some drama but also, it will help solidify the tastiness.