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October 5th, 2006


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12:22 pm - Barstool Confessional
Forgive me, bartender, for I have sinned.

I attended a little moviegoing party for Chelsea, who won the Brattle's yearly All-Request Raffle. She got to pick her own double feature for the night and enjoy a pre-film food-n-drink kinda thing at Noir in Harvard Square, all expenses paid (to a point.) The staff at the bar were nice and continually brought out little noshers for us -- croquettes, skewers of various protein type things with different sauces, some pretty nice shrimp, and dark chocolate-covered pretzels for dessert. Did I mention it was an open bar? Okay, I did. We were graciously allowed to indulge ourselves in food and drink.

I decided to do what a fellow seeking adventure and indulgence tends to do, and for my last drink of the evening, after tactfully ascertaining that we had hardly scratched the surface of the evening's alotted budget (the guest list was allowed 20 guests; I think we had under 10) ordered the most expensive drink.

The Macallan 25-year single highland malt scotch.

This stuff goes for around $400 a bottle. It is a magical potion, reverently worshiped by some and desired by others. A single glass at the bar this evening would run $40. I would have been just as happy with an $11 glass of Glenfiddich, no question about it ... but when would I be in the position again to even consider making such a drink request? We were told to indulge ourselves, so...

Macallan 25-year, neat, with water on the side, please.

I was giddy with anticipation, and I'm not even a scotch Connoisseur-With-A-Capital-C. I like the stuff, make no doubt about it, but I couldn't use the words "smoky with hints of peat and chocolate cassis" to describe a drink and expect anyone, myself included, to take me seriously.

And I waited. And waited. And waited. The show was going up at 8:00 and here it was 7:45 and my scotch hadn't shown up. When 7:50 rolled around, so did my drink.

On the rocks.

I can already hear some people of certain scotch-loving persuasions now pulling at their hair, gnashing their teeth, rending their garments and sending their blood pressure through the roof. This is to be expected. You can put blended scotch on ice, sure, no problem. Your Johnnie Walker Cheap, fine, cool it off with a few bits of ice and you'll be happy.

But for some, drinking single malt on the rocks, especially one of the most revered single malts around, is tatamount to buying, say, a 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona coupe, only to install neon on the undercarriage, spinning hubcaps, license plate frame made up of real chain link, and finally slapping on two stickers: one of a bootlegged Calvin peeing on a Mercedes-Benz logo and one reading "GAS, GRASS OR ASS - NOBODY RIDES FREE."

If circumstances had been different, I would have politely requested the drink sent back and a new one procured just as I'd ordered. But, frankly, we were pressed for time, it wasn't my tab, and I couldn't exactly fish all the ice cubes out and not look like more of a fool than I already was. And I could not stand the thought of having had a most expensive and wonderful drink from a most expensive bottle poured just for me, only for me to send it back, where presumably it'd go down the drain (but hopefully down the hatch of one of our servers or the bartender instead.)

So I drank it on ice. What else could I do?

It would have been nice to taste it all the way through, without the melted ice watering up the last bits, but even so, I can state that it was absolutely amazing. Smooth and golden and incredibly delicious. Smoky with hints of peat and chocolate cassis. I had it and you didn't.

The movies I'll talk about in another post. I enjoyed them both, too. But this post is all about what happens when one gets a very rare opportunity to enjoy something in a fashion which they shouldn't have. I committed a most egregious drinking sin through no fault of my own, but I enjoyed it and that's what counts, dammit. So don't say a Hail St. Pauli Girl for me. I'll repent sometime. Maybe. Not now. Not while I'm still feeling the glow.

(16 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:signsoflife
Date:October 5th, 2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
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I admire your willingness to salvage the atrocity. I am frankly amazed that a bartender in a place where 25-year Macallan is even on the spirits list would make that kind of a mistake. (This is where someone makes a "busy night" excuse, but really, just, no.)

Mmm, hints of peat and chocolate cassis.
[User Picture]
From:some_kitten
Date:October 5th, 2006 05:51 pm (UTC)
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Oh, honey.

I cringe. I cry. I gnash my teeth. I'd rend my garments, but I'm at work.

And yes, I admire your fortitude of character.

Although I would have been strongly inclinded to fish the ice cubes out and leave them on the bar. But sending it back does seem like such a waste.

I'm glad you enjoyed it despite the circumstances.

And really, they so Should Have Known Better.
[User Picture]
From:pecosy
Date:October 5th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
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Forgive me, bartender, for I have sinned

I believe it was the bartender who sinned.

I've learned that when ordering expensive things in a place not used to serving them, order like you're Sally Albright. The risk of looking like an high-maintenance ninny is worth the reward of not getting things screwed up.
[User Picture]
From:sanspoof
Date:October 5th, 2006 05:59 pm (UTC)
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Great, now I have 'Somewhere That's Green' in my head.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 5th, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC)
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I look like Betty Crocker
And I cook like Donna Reed
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 5th, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC)
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There, that ought to make you remember the lyrics wrong for the rest of your life.
[User Picture]
From:janric
Date:October 5th, 2006 06:44 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I'm in the cringing corner on this one as well. I may not use the words "smoky with hints of peat and chocolate cassis" but I do read those while shopping for scotch, and still, given the same situation, I would've done the same.
[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:October 5th, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC)
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Look on the bright side. My wife would have asked to have it mixed with Dr. Pepper.
[User Picture]
From:puddnhead
Date:October 5th, 2006 11:12 pm (UTC)
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I'd like to think that I would have sent it back, but truth be told I'd've done exactly what you did. Macallan 25 is up to $400 a bottle now?! Man, I remember when the Foremost used to sell it on sale for $70/bottle once every couple of months. Should have stocked up.
From:lno
Date:October 6th, 2006 12:33 am (UTC)
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Tell me about it. I began drinking scotch about five or six years ago, right about when prices began skyrocketing. I still find myself saying "Seventy bucks for Lagavulin? That used to be thirty, tops!"

I'm a cranky old man, drinking my whisky.
From:lno
Date:October 6th, 2006 12:32 am (UTC)
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I skimmed down my friends page. I saw this.

The Macallan 25-year single highland malt scotch.

This stuff goes for around $400 a bottle. It is a magical potion, reverently worshiped by some and desired by others. A single glass at the bar this evening would run $40. I would have been just as happy with an $11 glass of Glenfiddich, no question about it ... but when would I be in the position again to even consider making such a drink request? We were told to indulge ourselves, so...

Macallan 25-year, neat, with water on the side, please.


I stopped reading and poured myself a splash of Laphroiag 30-year. I purchased the bottle last December to celebrate a promotion, and except for that night, every time I looked at the bottle I told myself I should reach for a different one. Tonight, I read your words and thought I should celebrate that someone else is enjoying a wonderful malt.

Then I saw this.

On the rocks.

I cried.

But I lifted my glass to your Ferrari analogy; not only in praise, but also as an apology, for I'm going to lift it shamelessly and refer to it as necessary.

Got one for when people order their steak well done and eat it with ketchup?
[User Picture]
From:markm
Date:October 6th, 2006 11:28 am (UTC)
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> Got one for when people order their steak well done and eat it with ketchup?

Gee, thanks. Until now I was blissfully unaware of this particular abomination.
[User Picture]
From:coffeebeanben
Date:October 6th, 2006 01:34 am (UTC)
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I will tell you a little secret: I enjoy my single malts with the tiniest splash of cold water. No joke.

I think I was in Pizza Rama on College St. in Amherst once time (YOU REMEMBER THE PLACE) watching the Food network which had this thing about tasting Scotches and describing the differences between some of the higher-end stuff. One guy actually advised the splash of water. "I spit upon thee!" thunketh I. I mean, who would dare to dilute such a precious specimen of fermentation?

Then I tried it with a Dalwhinnie 15 year once. I ordered two servings and did a taste test. And damned if I didn't do a triple-take. It was good.

Oblig disclaimers, YMMV, HTH, all that applies. I've done double-blind tests with this stuff now (meaning all testers were doubly blind after samples were consumed).

Still. Rocks?!? I'm not going to scoff, because some people genuinely prefer it that way. But it ain't what you ordered. Tab or no tab, open bar or no, crowded evening or whatever, the Whiskey deserves the respect of being served to the customer the way the customer wanted it served.
[User Picture]
From:ctate
Date:October 6th, 2006 02:46 am (UTC)
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They call this "vatting." I know someone who uses an eyedropper to doctor her shots of whisky at home. I know of people who try to get water from the same source that the distillery uses. (See? There's always someone crazier than you!)

Simple rules of thumb: Vatting, yes. Rocks, no no no oh god please no make it no stop stop no no NO!

See? Easy.
From:mhaille
Date:October 6th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
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I've heard the same, that water is key to get some of the tasty compounds moving, but then I was told that it's only two drops off the tip of a finger. It does make a difference, though, certainly.
[User Picture]
From:modpixie
Date:October 7th, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
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1. when are you going to write about the movies, dammit?
2. will i see you at the free off the wall matinee tomorrow?

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