I take forever to get ready, and I’m chronically late. I don’t like these two facts about me, but facts they are. It’s gotten to the point where even my dream life has been impacted; I can’t tell you how many movie premieres, clandestine meetings with revolutionaries, private jet trips to exotic places, and (my own) wedding(s) I’ve missed out on because even in a world of my own subconscious creation, I manage my time like an arsehole. Sorry, Matthew McConaughey (I, too, was surprised but there was no denying the chemistry).
Being self-employed, largely a loner, and an “artist,” has really helped me cultivate my dawdling and procrastination. I’ve downright fine-tuned and mastered the technique in quarantine. Now that the world has opened up a bit, I, true to form, will be arriving two hours late, on a noxious cloud of too much perfume and hairspray, my hair hot-rolled into a poodle helmet, my face painted into an emotionally bullet-proof kabuki mask, as I make my way to the nearest corner to hide.
My process of pupating from curmudgeon to congenial is elaborate and rather inefficient. First, there’s showering (taking a two-hour bath), then getting dressed (changing my outfit three times, hating everything I own), then doing my make-up (fastening on my most convincing human veil), and of course, amidst that, I’m also prone to dazing away to whatever music is in the background (“Ashes to Ashes” by David Bowie will probably be played at least twice) and sipping a pre-outing cocktail. Or two. Probably two. Definitely two. It’s economical.
My favourite cocktail for getting ready is one that I’m more inclined to slowly sip on rather than knock back–I don’t want to get too much of a head start on my night out — so ideally: very boozy, kinda old-timey, and stirred up or on a rock. Here are two:
The Bijou cocktail (circa 1882) is an herbaceous martini riff that is sharp and potent. Also, pretty. If you don’t have Green Chartreuse, bump the gin to two ounces, and the sweet vermouth to one and you basically have a Gin & It, which is equally delightful, just slightly less complex.
- 45 ml Gin
- 20 ml Sweet Vermouth
- 20 ml Green Chartreuse
- 2 dashes Orange Bitters
- Lemon twist
Add ingredients (except lemon twist) to a chilled Boston glass (I use a pint glass from IKEA) and fill with cracked ice. If you don’t have cracked ice, then use the ice you have, just be sure you have enough so that the glass is more ice than liquid. Stir for approximately 30 seconds, until the glass has re-frosted, then strain into a chilled coupe. Express the lemon twist over the coupe and garnish.
The King Cole
The King Cole cocktail (circa 1930) is an Old-Fashioned riff that uses Fernet Branca in place of Angostura as its bitters component, and cane syrup in place of a sugar cube.
- 65 ml Rye or Bourbon
- 15 ml Fernet Branca
- A bar spoon of cane syrup (or simple syrup, or a brown sugar cube muddled with a bar spoon of club soda)
- Lemon twist
Pour ingredients (except twist) into a lowball glass and add ice. Stir 5-7 times, then express the lemon twist over the glass and garnish. (The Old-Fashioned template does not demand chilled glassware.)