secret cocktail hour: a narrow margin

The latest secret menu coup — a white-wine brisket for Passover — was captured by hungry bellies before the camera even emerged from the bag. Oh well. Some meals are best left to taste memory.

JM and I did laundry tonight, and mixed with the barflies at the dive adjacent to the laundromat while our clothes did time in the dryer. Have I told you lately how much I love Eagle Rock? No? Well, I love Eagle Rock. I love Eagle Rock because it reminds me that I’m nowhere near being the protagonist. I’m not even in a supporting role, and barely even make it to cameo status, even on my best days.

The protagonist is actually a bearded gentleman in a yellow sweater who’s been to every bar in the neighborhood, both before and after it changed ownership. He not only knows the name of every bartender, but his/her life story and where he/she commutes from. And he tells the girl who just walked in that she looks “really cute,” but she doesn’t give him a dirty look because she knows him, she’s seen him before, and he’s not being gross — he’s just really friendly.

Only after exiting the bar did I realize that, if I had been on my game, I would have given that guy a noogie and thus secured my small role in the narrative. But I’d been too buried in thought, quietly girding myself for JM’s imminent departure. He was slated to hop in a shuttle at some ridiculous hour on Monday morning, and not return until the end of the week: a short trip, to be sure, but saying goodbye is always a doozy. The bloody mary I’d ordered at the laundromat bar (though it was not technically in the laundromat, it may as well have been) had been good and strong, and the company had been solid, and I’d been happy enough to have a walk-on role in the movie about Life, the Universe, and Everything, even if it was destined to end up on the cutting room floor. And I planned on having another drink when I got home, since last night’s cup of joy needed a morose counterpart to commemorate the latest exodus from Los Angeles. I knew gin would fit the bill, because it always does. But when we got home, JM got a phone call postponing his trip, and the goodbye drink transformed, as if by magic, into a mini-celebration.

Tonight I had my walk-on role, my elbow-brush with the star; tonight I was given two free hellos for the price of one postponed goodbye; the world shifted a little in its orbit, and I was giddy throughout from the sizzle of a well-made and over-spiced brunch cocktail, gulped down about six hours too late. So I christen this drink the Narrow Margin cocktail, not only because of the evening’s narrow hits and misses but because it also contains a typographic metaphor, and I’m a total sucker for those.

The Narrow Margin

-a hefty shot of gin
-a splash of sweet Marsala
-a few glugs of soda water
-half a cucumber, sliced thin
-a pinch of dried lavender

(Marsala is not generally used in cocktails, but it does make an appearance in the Marsala Martini. Riffing on this, I decided to skip the Vermouth and use soda instead, along with enough plant matter for a salad. If I could do it all over again, I would use Fresca instead of soda. Remember Fresca? I was addicted to that stuff when I was twelve. Fresca was like Sprite that had never seen hard times: you could still taste hints of recognizable fruit flavors, like orange and cranberry. Anyway, my favorite part of this drink is the insane amount of cucumber. I started off with just a few slivers but then decided, well, what the heck. Have a little salad with your cocktail. The fun doesn’t have to end with brunch.)


2 thoughts on “secret cocktail hour: a narrow margin

  1. I’ve never gone beyond a stick of celery in a Bloody Mary or an olive or two in the rare (for me) Martini. I’ll give your concoction a try, even though the inner me who loves Laphroiag is yelling “Nooooooooo!”

  2. Eeek! I love this! Ever since I purchased a bargain bottle of Hendrick’s at the Kiev Duty Free (what?!), I’ve been making gin and tonics with a dozen slices of cucumber inside. My boyfriend thinks I’m nuts, but is there anything better than booze-soaked cucumbers? Nope. Love the idea of lavender too…

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