Dinner at Le Bernadin was as exquisite as you would expect (and yes, I just name dropped a four star restaurant, because what the hell, it was sublime.) It was the first time I dined by myself at a restaurant of this caliber since I was making a strategic effort to drink some of the best bottles in my wine cellar. This put me in a mildly reflective mood, so the cab driver had to alert me when we arrived at my hotel.
I walked into the hotel bar where I was meeting Yet Another Lawyer I Used to Date for a quick drink and maybe a trip uptown to her favorite latin-jazz joint. It was just before 10pm, and true to her exceedingly busy form, YALIUD had already sent one message about being almost unstuck from the office.
My hotel was of the classical variety thus the bar was blissfully absent the tragically hip elements that are too popular these days. Barely half a minute after choosing a seat at the not quite crowded bar, the bartender slides a cloth napkin in front of me and asks for my drink order.
“Good evening, perhaps you would indulge me; I’d like equal parts cognac, frangelico, and bailey’s shaken heavily and served straight up, please.”
A few moments later, as the bartender sat the drink before me, she said “OK, I’ll bite, does this thing have a name?”
“There’s enough left in that shaker for you to pour yourself a dram; why don’t you taste it first” I implored. The bartender gave me a look that instantly indicated that drinking was against company policy, so I continued “I understand if it’s against the rules, but how can you learn a new drink without tasting it? It would seem a waste to do otherwise.”
I have never claimed to be a good influence on anyone.
She gave furtive glances to each corner of the room before pouring the remnants into a small rocks glass and taking a sip. Her smile of delight was balanced by a slightly furrowed brow that I interpreted as consternation.
“I’m Wendy, and you need to tell me about this drink” she said while extending her hand.
“Hi Wendy, I’m Refugee. That drink is a Long Kiss Goodnight…”
“Oh my god, that name makes perfect sense” Wendy interrupted. “Where did you have it or learn it?”
“Actually, I invented it for a woman who used to come to my restaurant on the one night of the week I was bartending. Just before she’d leave she always said ‘Refugee, make me my last drink of the night.’ It took about four weeks but this is what we settled on as her last drink of the night.”
“Hang on a second, I’ll be right back” Wendy said before tending to a group of suits in the middle of the bar. Three Amstel Lights later Wendy was back and as many bartenders are wont to do, she continued the conversation right where she left it without segue. “So, you used to be in the business, and invented this drink made with three standard ingredients that had never been put together before?”
I laughed a bit at the question because I understood the incredulity that inspired it before answering “Yeah, it sounds a little strange, but it was more than a few years ago, and I did some research before declaring it a creation. There are more than a few other recipes with the really different ingredients with the same name, but this is the only one with this combination.”
“Well, it’s really good, and the flavors are really clean… and this one’s on me. Thank you for teaching me something new” Wendy said at the same time that YALIUD finally arrived.
After the hug, the kisses on the cheek, YALIUD just looked at the bar and then to Wendy and said with a huge smile “Did he teach you MY drink?”