A Drink for Wilted Mournings
The perfect drink for a garbage day.
First the recipe. Then the story.
- Earl Grey Tea (made with ¾ - 1 cup water)
- 1 dried baby banana / or a "thumb" worth of overripe banana (preferably black)
- 1 ounce Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum
- 1/2 ounce falernum
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- 1 lime round and 3 allspice berries (optional, for garnish)
Blend/mash banana and honey at the bottom of a teapot. Brew tea on top of the mash. Strain. Add rum, falernum, and lime juice. Stir. Garnish.
The restaurant, parva laminas, in the South End of Boston, did not last long. Yet it made an impact.
It may not be remembered by the restaurant community, the neighborhood, or even its customers. But it impacted the people who worked there.
At least some of them the morning after its last shift in operation.
Chef Homer Moustakas did not sleep that night. Instead, right before 7 AM on Monday, he was back in his empty restaurant. There was still food in the walk-in. Homer decided that the only way he'd ever sleep again was if he turned all of it into meals for the staff. He wanted to show them that he appreciated their support.
He also wanted to make sure the investor who brought him to this point got little when it came to liquidating.
He texted every staff number with instructions to pass along the invite.
As people filtered in, Toni, the (former) bar manager, took point on triage. They stocked the bar with Pedialyte and Red Bull (sugar-free and regular). There was also aspirin and ibuprofen and, of course, a full bar for those who needed to keep going.
The majority of the staff were industry veterans. The part-time bartender Pauli referred to them all as "Trash Bags." But, there were also some babies in the mix.
Katie, for example. Hailing from Wisconsin, she had significant experience. She'd worked in fast food and as a small-town breakfast waitress for years. But this was her first time working at a place "open at night."
She had to learn how to serve drinks. That was breathtakingly adorable. Watching her cycle through martini mods before hitting a table was like watching a puppy psyching itself up to attack a Doberman.
On top of that, it wasn't until the place closed last night that she had her first sip of alcohol. Toni made her a SoCo and lime as the rest of the staff shot Mezcal.
It devolved from there.
Katie showed up around noon with a small knot of coworkers. She was wearing sunglasses. She gingerly sipped from a grocery store tin can of chicken noodle soup with two triangle punctures on its top.
Toni had a sharp intake of breath. They quietly repeated the prayer their mother said when tested. "We love them because they are stupid, and without our guidance, they would die."
"How about some water?" Toni called to her across the restaurant.
"Huh?" she replied.
"I'm begging that you sit down. Please give me the can. Let me make you something," Toni insisted.
"ha. ha," she replied softly as she approached the bar. She immediately placed her face down on the cool bartop.
Toni took off their jacket and folded it into a rectangle.
"Lift your head a moment." Katie lifted her head, and her neck strained. Toni quickly put the jacket underneath. "Put down your head! Rest," they insisted. "I'll be back."
Katie started to drift, but her head pounded. She slowed her breathing. It seemed like forever before Toni returned.
"Sip when ready. No rush. This will keep."
Katie immediately sat up. She had yet to discard the midwestern compulsion to respond when acknowledged immediately.
She wrapped her hands around the footed glass coffee mug. It warmed her hands a little, but it wasn't too hot. It smelled fragrant. The dominant aroma was the "clovey" allspice berries floating on top and the lime wheel on the rim.
"It smells like a green holiday," Katie said.
"Oh?" said Toni with a smile. With the sunglasses on, they were unsure if Katie's eyes were open. Yet they recognized that Katie was in "wine tasting mode." It was a serious state Toni had noticed Katie adopting any time they had a wine or cocktail tasting. Toni encouraged her to go with whatever words came to mind when tasting something new. "Is it like a Christmas tree?"
"Nooooo." she intoned and frowned, "Like, lime? Apple cider with lime?"
"Taste it," Toni encouraged.
Katie tilted the mug and took a small and loud sip. She pulled in a lot of air the way Toni had recommended when trying to pull apart an unfamiliar or subtle flavor.
"Oh," said Katie before going in for a few more small sips. "It has spices. It's also sweet, and, like, there are tropical flowers? And banana bread? Is it honey? It's also tea. Like chai with no milk."
"Chai doesn't always have milk in it," Toni said with a smile. "That's a chai latte, but you're right so far."
She gave a light cough, "It's a bit hot in my throat," said Katie.
"I cut the booze down, but there's rum and falernum in there," said Toni.
"Doghair," Katie declared.
"Sure," Toni laughed. "Do you remember falernum?" Toni had some tiki-inspired drinks with falernum on the parva laminas menu.
She frowned, "I don't feel like testing. I already forgot everything."
"Oh. Of course," they responded.
"This is good, though. Will it fix me?" Katie pleaded.
"It might make it easier to nap." Said Toni, "My grandfather used to drink a version of this before bed every night."
"What's it called?" Katie asked.
Toni considered their answer, "It's called a Golden Unicorn."
"Aw, cute," said Katie, "Was your grandpa into unicorns?"
"Um. Well. Katie," Toni relaxed, realizing that there were no HR issues as they were both officially out of jobs. "Do you know what 'morning wood' is?"
"Uh, yeah," she replied with a frown.
"Golden Unicorn is what you call it when a person with an, um, morning wood tries to, um, pee. Grandpa said this made him sleep so well that he started each day with a Golden Unicorn."
Katie took another sip. She rolled her tongue around her mouth and contemplated it.
"I don't taste that at all," and with that, Katie put her head back down on Toni's jacket pillow and fell asleep.
More in this Series
Aftermath: The First Ending - The story of parva laminas. One fantastic failed restaurant.
About the Creator
Obsessively thinking about the intersections of food, entertainment, commerce, human nature, and the end of the world.
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