My first task in lockdown (March 23, but who's counting) was to clean out the bar. And, given that my May and September travel plans were nuked, I substituted a vicarious re-visit to places where I'd enjoyed tipples over several decades!
Vancouver. Let’s meet up at ‘Coast’ for happy hour. That’ll be a Caesar, please - Canada’s national tipple. And just the ticket to accompany local oysters at $1/shot. Now let’s fly up to Bella Coola and Tweedsmuir Park to check out some grizzlies. Oct. ‘19
Santa Fe - impossible to tire of this wonderful little city - galleries; adobe architecture; Azenazi culture, artisan silver and jade; fabulous food; Georgia O’Keefe; desert Opera. Sazon restaurant is a gastronomic delight of modern Mexican food - and it has an amazing Margarita menu! Dec ‘17
New Orleans - we’d flown from St Louis the morning after the Berlin Wall came down. And it was Veterans’ Day, so we kicked off with a “Hurricane” at Pat O’Brien’s, where they pour them by the dozen, with a side of wonderful jazz. Nov. ‘89
Havana - and it's the original Daiquiri (1898), named for the Cuban town where it was created. Hemingway voted Floridita's bar the best, but 30years is a long time between drinks; and Alison and I gave it the thumbs down (weak and blah). Feb '08
New York. 10AM - let’s go shopping on Park Avenue, followed by a bistro lunch. Then an afternoon culture fix at The Frick. 5PM - it's time to hit the Ritz-Carlton, Central Park for a Martini - just one (and Karen insists on 3 olives). Oct. ‘15
County Cork, Ireland. At Jamieson’s distillery, they loosen visitors’ pursestrings before the tour with a ‘Jamie & Ginger’ - it’s the perfect wintry tipple before a vertical tasting of whiskey wares. April ‘18
London, Berkeley Square. Where better for great Indian food than Atul Kochhar’s Benares? And my chosen aperitif is a Passionfruit Chutney Martini (so much better than the usual ‘beer’ accompaniment for curries). May ‘17
London, and we’re pootling around the horticultural wonders of the Chelsea Flower show. Of course, one must have a pint of Pimms to hand (32,000 pints are sold during the public opening days last year)! May ‘08
Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain. The tuna are running in the Straits of Gibraltar, but at Casa Bigote, the local Gambas Blanca a la Plancha (grilled with flaked sea salt) are heroic, especially paired with the local Manzanilla! October ‘16
San Sebastian, Spain; and we’re at the Hotel de Londres bar for (arguably) the world’s best Gin Tonic. No need for measures here - just upend the Hendricks, add a splash of tonic & garnish with cucumber and pink peppercorns. Sept ‘06 & Oct ’16.
Marseillan, France. This little port is situated at the end of the Canal du Midi - a perfect place to quaff a crisp Picpoul de Pinet with oysters from the Etang du Thau. But this is also the home of Noilly Prat, and their superb Ambré vermouth. Oct 11 & May ‘16
Vienne, France. Today’s Jo’s birthday, so we’re going back a quarter of a century to when we two enjoyed our “Dinner of a Lifetime” at La Pyramide (Michelin 3*), and our aperitif was a Kir Imperial. May ‘84
Paris, Left Bank, and it’s the Green Fairy! After phylloxera nuked the wine industry in 1860’s, the bohemian cafe luminaries (including Van Gogh, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Beaudelaire, Verlaine, Picasso and Oscar Wilde) took to Absinthe as their preferred tipple, despite its reputed ‘mood-altering’ effects! May ‘09
Venice. A Bellini at Harry’s Bar - created by Guiseppe Cipriani in the ‘30’s and finally christened during the Giovanni Bellini exposition in 1948. At Harry’s Bar it comes in a silly little tumbler (€22), but when Ruth and I tippled at Hotel Cipriani, they used a flute. Aug ‘02 & Oct ‘19
Prague. The Hemingway bar is a must (reservations essential!). Our mixologist was runner-up in the ‘17 world cocktail championships. Carol kicked off with a Whiskey Sour, then ventured into the unknown with a Christmas Snowball. Happy New Year! (Jan ‘18)
Shiraz, Persia. Historically the city of poets, nightingales, roses and...wine - but no longer! Hard to judge which is the more heinous crime - outlawing alcohol or changing the country’s name to Iran! So tonight, it’s a Cloudburst Spritz (aka Adam’s Ale, Council Pop). Sept ‘14.
Siem Reap, Cambodia. I detest the tropics, but the ‘Khmer Cooler’ served at the colonial FCC hotel is restorative - lime segments muddled with mint, a splash of OJ, topped with ginger ale. T’would be better with a slug of white rum, but this is an AFD! Dec ‘13
Singapore. When one checks in at Raffles, one is seated comfortably in a sofa and served a Singapore Sling while one’s details and credit card are noted - a very civilised way to do business, especially following in the footsteps of legends such as Noel Coward! May ‘15
Marvellous Melbourne. In 1984, the simple and elegant ‘Japanese Slipper’ was created by Jean-Paul Bourguignon at Mietta’s iconic restaurant. Sadly Mietta’s is no more, but, in lieu, I’ll head to the Flower Drum (soon). For now, it’s back to lockdown - thanks for tippling along......