I have been infecting one of my clients — we go back over twenty years — with my long-cultivated taste for Quirky Liquors, and this Christmas my efforts at debauch were rewarded beyond all expectation when he appeared for his appointment with a small, resealed bottle that had once contained some awful Coconut Aloe Juice concoction.
“Fifty-year-old Chartreuse,” he said. “I saw that movie The Bucket List, and decided there are some things I better just go ahead and experience. Tell me if you think it’s different from the regular kind. Do you know there are five kinds of Chartreuse…?” A geek at heart, he went on at some length while — not being under any obligation to operate a motor vehicle for the rest of the day — I poured a teaspoon of the stuff and investigated. It was woodier than everyday Chartreuse, a little bitterer, just as exhilarating. Possibly only worth the hundred-dollar-plus price tag — over double its younger sibling’s — to someone with plenty of dough to throw around, but then, Rafael is a bachelor with no dependents and a Federal pension waiting for him. He is on a quest for cloudberry liqueur — a Finnish specialty that he drank once, overseas — and has been surfing sites like The Whisky Exchange for oddities.
(I can tell you, as someone who regularly does arithmetic to be sure the mortgage will clear, that the standard green Chartreuse is worth the price. Exotic gardens bloom in your olfactory bulbs when you drink it. Wormwood essences as suave as silk taffeta wreathe your synapses. It is worth it.)
We drank it over the Christmas season, even offering to share with Miss Nickel Catmium, whose reaction to volatiles — all cats loathe them — is especially adorable: she sniffs the glass and does a double flinch. In the case of the Chartreuse she actually jumped back a foot.
Tonight Rafael turned up with something new for me.
That is a plastic — PETE — bottle of Pinnacle Imitation Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka. I have had my concerns about plastic water bottles in the past, at least in hot weather. Acid fruit juices apparently leach more antimony from PETE than water. I can’t imagine what happens with alcohol. Rafael regularly swaps health information with me — cutting-edge, out-of-mainstream stuff about toxins and hormone disruptors and nutrition. I have no idea what came over him. It was a present; what in the fuck do you say?
I am the world’s foremost expert at accepting a questionable gift with an enthusiasm tailored to the intent. Someone, somewhere, may still have a pair of matted landscapes printed on blue foil that I got for a birthday thirty years ago. I hope no one spent too much money framing them.
It’s a two liter bottle.
I ran right to the kitchen after I finished work and juiced eight stalks of chard, two apples, four ounces of lettuce and a beet.