October 27, 2009

One Ugly Monkey

Sorry for the delay in reporting these results. I've dropped twenty pounds and am way out of drinking shape. Experiments didn't used to hurt this bad.

Moreover, Death in the Afternoon is not something to trifle with. A heady mix of absinthe and Champagne rumored to be favored by, if not actually invented by, Ernest Hemingway (who wrote a book with the same title and only spells his name with 1 "M"). The drink involves a jigger of absinthe, newly legalized, and enough iced Champagne to obtain "the proper opalescent milkiness."

Hemingway favored French. So we used a very good, if not exorbitantly priced, grower Champagne from the grand cru village of Verzenay. A non-vintage Michel Arnould & Fils Grand Cuvee Brut. For the absinthe, we opted for a hand-crafted elixir from Berkeley, California called St George. It may be less "traditional" but it has dense herbal aromatics, a blend of anise, fennel, verbena and citrus. It also has a cool, scary spider monkey on the label.

The first thing you notice is the licorice. The smell reaches you even before you pick up the glass. The second thing is the milky opalescence (see above). The blend of liquids seems to gain substance in the glass. On the palate, the flavors spread thickly across the tongue, like the texture of a really delicious mix of peanut butter and lighter fluid. It's beguiling. You give the green fairy a wink and smile. Because the third thing you notice is how really good this is.

The fourth thing you notice is how bad your head hurts as you wonder who's bed you've slept in.

Whether Ernest chose this as a sea-sickness cure (as Champagne was generally thought to be back in olden times), because it was delicious or because it's the most effective way to get blood alcohol levels up to toxic levels, we may never know for certain.

But be careful of the monkey. He smells nice. But he's not your friend.


the terrace said...

great post. that stuff sounds deadly!!! do you have a shot of the drink?

Director, Lab Outreach said...

What happened to the camera is not an appropriate story for mixed company. There might be children present. But I will try to get a shot of the concoction when I remember where my gear is.