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A Tale of Drinks, Drunk

by J.S. Kohout 7 months ago in Humor
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It was 5 o'clock on a Saturday. August 3, 2019.

A Tale of Drinks, Drunk
Photo by QUI NGUYEN on Unsplash

Once upon a time, a billion days ago, there was a chef named Homer.

On this night, he and his soon-to-be ex-general manager, Damon, met up at a Cambridge, Massachusetts bar. It was a warm evening, on the edge of muggy.

The place was dead. But then again, it wasn’t actually open to the public for another half an hour.

At the far end of the bar, near the service well, was Kyle the bartender. He wore a black dress shirt and jeans. His long black hair was pulled back in a ponytail. He was finishing up his pre-shift sandwich.

It was five o’clock on the dot.

Damon was well dressed in a cotton dress shirt and canvas pants. He preferred wine. The bartender, Kyle, preferred wine also. The two of them discussed the bar’s latest acquisitions.

Homer had his nose in his phone and was wearing a battered tee that was trying very hard to be white. Its collar sagged around his neck. Though depressed, he wasn’t keen on getting sloshed, but he appreciated a good cocktail. Kyle was happy to oblige.

Homer looked a bit like he might have already taken a shot or two before leaving work. Regardless, he “officially” kicked off his evening with something light and low ABV, a classic cocktail.

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CORONATION NO. 1

  • 1.5 oz Dry Vermouth (Lo-Fi Dry)
  • 1.5 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau Puerto Fino)
  • Bar spoon (5 ml) of Maraschino liquor
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • Lemon twist (garnish)

Pour over ice in a mixing glass. Stir until well chilled. Usually served up in a coupe or martini glass. But Homer is ever so slightly insecure about masculinity. Kyle knows this and serves it to him “down” in a chilled rocks glass. A lemon twist is expressed, the rubbed around the rim, and dropped in the glass.

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By Alaksiej Čarankievič on Unsplash

Homer enjoyed the “Coronation No. 1” because it was lightly sweet, lightly herbal, and reminded him a bit of lemonade. Sometimes he’d dump this cocktail into the glass of soda water he also sipped on.

That way, it was almost like he was drinking anything at all.

“How are you doing right now?” Damon asked Homer as he sipped on his glass of crisp Alsatian Gewürztraminer.

“Oh. Good as I can be considering I’m losing my dream, I’m deeply in debt, and tomorrow night I’m officially out of work.”

Damon responded with an easy warmth. “It’s just a job. It’s only money. You still have your health. Your family is good. And I’m losing my job with you! I’ll be here to get the messy stuff squared away. Won’t be easy, but we’ll get it done. We’ll move on.”

“Hear you. Maybe. But it’s so overwhelming. I keep wondering what I could have done differently. I can’t focus. Every hour or so, I remember something dumb I said or did in the last year. I yell “Fuck” and cringe. Usually in the shower. Occasionally on the T.”

“I get it,” Damon responded. “I can connect you with Group O’Tigre. Want me to ask about something for you there?”

Homer shook his head and paused. “Well… no. I, uh, I do want you to ask, and I don’t. I promised I wouldn’t say anything to anyone outside you, Robin, and me until Robin gave me the go-ahead.”

“Why? We lock the doors in less than 24 hours!” Homer winced. Damon’s composure cracked. “Don't listen to Robin! Listening to him got you here! Stop listening to him! Do something for yourself!”

Homer withdrew to his phone.

Damon sighed. “We tried dude.” He sipped his wine and looked at the man opposite him. He saw a person he thought he knew, but this person seemed desperate to avoid all connection to reality.

Homer looked up eventually, and addressed his friend.

“It's my fault. I feel like shit. I’ve felt like shit every moment of the last six months. I let everyone down. I need a job. I know I need a job. But most of our staff doesn’t even know that they are out of jobs as of tomorrow. I can’t bail before they know! Besides, like, I know so many people at Group-O. It’s gonna’ suck so much. I’ll have to explain what happened over, and over again. Reliving it. But what's worse? I’ll have to talk nice about Robin. I’ll have to make up a story about how it was circumstance. Blaming the 'current restaurant climate.' All of that is bullshit. This is grease trap level stench, and it’s all over me.” He took a deep breath, “I’m thinking of moving out of state. At least until I get back on my feet.”

“Oh yeah?” said Damon with wide eyes. “You. The man who is so in love with this dumb city, you spent years making an homage to this racist-ass-bullshit-burg? You’re going to move? Where in the whomps you goona' go? If it’s further than Fitchburg, I’ll poop.”

“I was thinking Texas. Austin maybe. Something way different. Something cheaper.”

“Of all the fucking cities, you picked the one that rhymes with the city you already in?” scoffed Damon.

“Well, don’t go to El Paso,” piped in Kyle from behind the bar, “Big shooting at a Walmart there. Racist fuck. Need another round, boys?”

_______________________________

TI’ PUNCH

  • 2 oz unaged Rhum Agricole
  • 1 bar spoon (5 ml) of rich simple syrup (water and sugar at a 1:2 ratio.)
  • 1 lime wheel or wedge. Use what you got.

Squeeze a lime into a chilled rocks glass. Drop it in. Spoon in syrup, give it a stir. Add the rhum agricole. Kyle specifically stocks Clement Canne Bleue for Homer. Whatever the brand, it has to be Rhum Agricole, which mostly hails from Martinique. It’s made from sugar cane juice, as opposed to “rum,” which is made with molasses. It should also be an unaged Rhum, a blanc one. In a pinch, good cachaça can sub, but Homer notices when that sub is made. He firmly believes what a friend once told him, that no good cachaça leaves the borders of Brazil. Homer prefers his ‘Ti with crushed ice (he anxiously crunches on it), but this is a drink often served neat.

_______________________________

By Maxime Telesinski on Unsplash

“It’s good to know that this country is reliable in its racism,” said Damon as he sipped from his second glass.

“Maybe he’s just a dick. Why does it have to fuckin’ be about race?” asked Homer.

“Shut it.” Damon clipped. “It’s always about race. Trump is because of race.”

“Trump is because of dumb,” said Homer.

Kyle poked in with a low voice, “Guys, I don’t fucking care, but keep it down on the Ump-tray. Guy down the bar gets a lil’ riled up when you start talking red hats. An ass, but he tips well. A’ight?”

Damon frowned but quieted. “Homer, we’ve known each other for years, and I still feel like I have to hold your hand all the time.”

“I’m sorry, man. I’m sorry. I am sorry. I just feel like the world is falling in on me, and I don’t want to think about anything. Especially not shit I can’t control that’s thousands of miles away from me and everyone I know.”

“Must be nice not to have to think about these things,” said Damon as he shifted his seat towards the bar. Nothing. Homer stayed rooted in his phone.

The silence persisted.

It was Damon who finally broke, “OK. You move to Austin. Does that mean you’re stuck in another cooking job?”

“What’s that mean?” asked Homer.

“Nothing, you delicate flower! I’m just wondering why you’d move thousands of miles away from everything you know to do the same freakin’ thing. I mean, yeah, you’re not gonna find too many CDC positions in Boston right now. Market is tight. But I bet it’s a tighter market in Austin. Especially if you don’t know anyone! You’ll be working breakfast, lunch, and sauté…”

Damon paused and considered the situation. “I mean, is it us?” he asked, “Do you think we don’t want you here?”

“Huh.” Homer rousted, “What? No. I don’t think so. I guess I just feel like shit. I don’t want to be constantly reminded that I feel like shit.”

Kyle started as he came over with two new drinks in hand, “Now, now, if you left town, you’d have to train a whole new bartender.”

_______________________________

AGED RUM OLD FASHIONED

  • 2 oz aged rum
  • 1 demerara sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 orange peel (garnish)

Diplomatico Rum Reserva Exclusiva is Homer’s favorite liquor, but he's always down to try new things. But tonight Kyle uses the Diplomatico to make the old-fashioned Homer has as his third drink. Kyle purposely uses a sugar cube for Homer’s drink instead of syrup. In goes a faint splash of soda water. Homer swears the soda water has a different taste. He describes it as a “sharp-breathless-fuzz” flavor. He says he prefers it. Three dashes of bitters (it’s Ango or nothing for Homer). The cube is muddled in the water and bitters at the bottom of a chilled rocks glass. Kyle doesn’t do a total dissolve on the sugar cube because Homer likes that gritty, sweet crunch in his last few sips. He says it reminds him of iced coffee at Dunks. Add a King cube and stir until cold. Blast that orange garnish. Homer loves oranges. He’s been known to eat out Kyle’s garnish tray if he gets too drunk.

Kyle also knows that Homer goes in one of two directions after this cocktail. If he’s keeping it tame, he switches over to Narragansett beer.

If it’s going the other way… bets are off.

_______________________________

By ANKUR MADAN on Unsplash

“You’re going fast with those cocktails.” chided Damon.

“Whatever. If I’m an alcoholic it hasn’t affected anything. Besides! Ask Kyle,” Homer called down the bar towards Kyle, “Would an alcoholic be so picky about his cocktails?”

“Maybe not an alcoholic, but all that rum and sugar might make you a diabetic,” Kyle called back.

“Ah, fuck, man. Pthew! Pthew! Pthew! No sick talk!” was Homer’s response.

Lately, he hadn't been feeling well. It had been years since he saw a doctor. He assumed his current feeling was stress. No cure for that, right? He never seemed to get colds or the flu, and you didn’t need doctors for the occasional hangover.

Homer picked up his phone and wrote a reminder in his “notes” app to get a check-up before his insurance lapsed.

He began to loosen up, and turned to Damon. “How about you? You gonna’ hit up Tigre? You keep telling me it’s sooo great.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I was considering teaching again.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Teaching. Come on. You know that’s what I really am, right?”

“What, like high school chemistry?”

“No, dummy. I did third grade before. But I’m thinking kindergarten. I need the energy minus the booze.”

“Who will I drink with?”

“What am I!?” interjected Kyle as he passed by.

“Does that mean you’re staying put?” asked Damon with a hard side-eyed. “I mean, you’ll have no problem finding alcoholics no matter where you are.”

Homer’s eyes rolled.

“I’m kidding. You’ll do fine. You’re a talented chef who got sideswiped by an investor. No one will blame you. Stay here or move to Austin. Start a food truck. I’ve every confidence you’ll do great things.”

“Dude.” Homer paused as if searching for the best way to say something difficult. “Fuck it with the empty compliments. It only makes me feel worse.”

Damon’s jaw dropped, “Oh, come on! I was serious!”

Homer squirmed, ‘Aw man, I can’t explain it. I don’t know what it is, but every positive thing you say makes me want to slit wrists.” He paused, looked down, and took a deep breath. “It just makes me so, so, so… angry.”

“Hey-” Damon tried to interrupt but was immediately cut off.

“No! I know you’re fucking here for me. You’re my friend. You’re my business partner. You are a person who came on board this thing in order to help me make the best of it. But... it fucking failed! I’m fucking angry! I let you down. You can tell me that I didn’t, but if you do tell me one more fucking time, ‘It’s gonna be OK,’ I am going to fucking lose it! I’m gonna throw my fucking stool across the bar! I, I, I don’t fucking know how to deal with any of this!”

“Homer,” said Damon kindly. “Therapy. You need friggin’ therapy. Frued, Jung, Dr. Phil in a bouncy house cage match.”

Homer chuckled.

“I am so serious.” Damon continued, “I’m always amazed at how after a few drinks, you’ll spill your guts and pee your pants in public! But you refuse to self examine in private! I mean, right now, I feel like you just peed all over me. Like, like you just went piddle! Piddle! Pee-pee all over me!”

“Come on,” said Homer calmly, “If I peed on you, it’d be a ‘Pew! Pew! Pew!’ kinda’ thing. Like I’d hold it until bursting, and I’d let it out in spurts like a laser gun.”

“Specific,” Damon replied. “But, like, isn’t that what you just did?”

Kyle swept in with three short glasses containing cloudy white pours. He smiled. “OK, boys. Catharsis time. Join me in a DTO.”

_______________________________

DAIQUIRI TIME OUT (DTO)

  • 2 oz light rum
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters

This recipe comes via legendary Boston bartender Jackson Cannon, “Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.” A regular gift to industry personnel from Kyle. Homer knew this “gift” was also a signal that he’d crossed into “Blutarski” territory. That was Kyle’s nickname for the person Homer became when he became too intense for public consumption. These shots were a friendly way of saying, “Hey, man. Shape up, or take it home.”

_______________________________

“So, guys,” said Kyle, “Where is this night headed? A Narragansett? Home? Or…” he waited for them to fill in the blank.

Damon responded first, “Well, I need to finish off the bottle. One more glass.” he paused and patted in the general vicinity of his bladder, “I’m saving up.”

Homer looked at the ceiling and took a moment to think…

_______________________________

MARGARITA

  • 2 oz reposado tequila
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • Lime wedge (garnish)
  • Kosher salt (garnish)

Pour tequila (Cazadores Reposado - cheap but good), triple sec, simple, and lime juice over the ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until your fingers stick to the metal like a tongue at Christmas. Salt rim (Homer insists on salt). Strain into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish with the wedge.

_______________________________

By Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Damon asked Homer, “Does that taste any different from…”

_______________________________

CADILLAC MARGARITA

  • 2 oz Patron silver
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 oz agave syrup
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • Lime wheel (garnish)
  • Saline solution (garnish)

Pour the first four ingredients over ice. Six vigorous shakes (a Homer superstition). Make some salt water in a shallow dish. Dip chilled coupe glass in the saltwater, then strain the cocktail into the rimmed coupe. Garnish with the wheel.

Extend the pinky, you bitch.

_______________________________

“Pew! Pew! Pew!”

Homer extended his pinky.

He also made friends with about two-thirds of the bar.

Then...

_______________________________

TEQUILA SHOTS

  • 2 ounces Patron silver
  • Lime wedge
  • Salt shaker

Throw away tequila. Then toss the lime and salt. Instead, sub two-finger’s worth of Mezcal. Ojo De Tigre if you can get it. Del Vida will do.

Repeat-ish-shish-ish.

_______________________________

““I love you. So much.”

(It’s not clear who said this, nor who they were saying it to.)

Homer may have said this to the fistful of orange slices he was snacking on, while chatting up a smoking patron just outside the front door.

At this point Kyle almost locked the door behind him.

But then...

_______________________________

FERNET

  • 2 ounces. Fernet-Vallet > Fernet-Branca (fight me... please?)

Or, if you don’t have that, brush your teeth, eat some licorice, and take a shot of Simple Green cleaner.

Oh, wait.

Please.

Please, god, no.

Please don’t be a dickwart and do a shot of Simple Green cleaner.

You can drink Branca.

_______________________________

By Chino Rocha on Unsplash

Time traveled straight through Homer and pushed him into the next day.

He awoke at 5AM to the familiar feeling of hot moist. Still wearing his jeans, he marinated in mildew and regret.

He had to get to work. He had prep to do before this last shift.

He was wearing his work clogs… but somehow lost one sock?

He brushed his teeth in the shower. He learned this “time-saving” move from a dishwasher many years back. Unfortunately, he used his conditioner instead of Colgate. More unfortunate, he did not notice.

Rushing into work, his first stop was the pastry shelf. He grabbed a few items, then went up to the bar.

First, he took a shot of warm water with a spoonful of baking soda dissolved in it.

Gross.

Then he took a shot of soda water with a few dashes of bitters in it.

Then…

_______________________________

HEAVY-PEDO

  • 1/8 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon flavored Jell-O mix. (Red, duh.)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 cup cold coconut water
  • Pinch of ginger paste (for upset stomach)
  • In an empty cocktail shaker, mix salt, sugar, and Jell-O. Add in the hot water and stir until everything dissolves. Pour in the cold coconut water and add the ginger paste (or ginger powder if that’s all you got). Throw in some ice cubes. Shake the shit out of it.

    Pedialyte, shmedialyte.

    _______________________________

    By Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

    As Homer brought himself up to normal, he looked around the empty dining room.

    “This will all be over soon enough.” He thought to himself. “No more headaches. Tomorrow morning. Then it’s real. Fuck today. Fuck the past. None of this matters. Just a few hard hours before locking the doors."

    He gulped at the bright red, thick, sweet, and salty drink in his hand.

    "Time for a fresh start.”

    _______________________________🐇

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    About the author

    J.S. Kohout

    Obsessively thinking about the intersections of food, entertainment, commerce, human nature, and the end of the world.

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