Half a Wit

Cocktail of the Day: Kill Devil

   Sun, April 19, 2009 - 6:00 PM
There are two theories as to why those in the English colonies referred to rum as "Kill Devil:" some say it's the hangover it caused, others say it's descriptive of its medicinal properties--which is the difference, I suppose, between an adjective or a verb, or whether you want to acquire a devil, or exorcise it (or both).

Although I am a little fuzzy-headed, I am not unpleasantly hungover. And for the most part, I find the local devils too charming to attempt to banish, much less do away with. Also, the Kill Devil Cocktail is one of the most extraordinary I've had in awhile.

If you ever find yourself in New York City, go to the Pegu Club and have one of these. Sit in the curvy chairs at a table by the window and watch the pretty go by. Make sure that you bring along amusing company.

The Club would not give me the recipe when I called. But I found it on the net anyway, so there:

• 2 oz Rhum Agricole Blanc
• 1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
• 1/4 oz Demerara Syrup (2-1 sugar to water)
• 3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a chili pepper. The drink is amazing--deep and red and complex and spicy, with a surprisingly gentle bite and a good deal of sweetness (rather like the company). This was also my first time trying rhum agricole, which is made from fresh-squeezed cane juice rather than molasses, as most rum is. It's lovely stuff, but pricey. Maybe I'll ask for a bottle for my birthday.

After the candlelit quiet and subdued charm of the Pegu Club, things got a little livelier. There was another cocktail lounge--this one a speakeasy, which required walking into an obscure phone booth and saying the right thing at the right time. There was a restaurant where, out in the courtyard there was a giant poster of a woman who looked like the love child of Greta Garbo and Boy George. There was a drunk and pretty boy whose LED-blinky red Elton John sunglasses charmed and mesmerized two tables, just only because he was the sort who could get away with it. And a lot of very short parties. The whole thing was kind of like an 80s movie--specifically maybe After Hours, the unlikely Martin Scorsese comedy about a guy whose attempted hookup with a beautiful girl in a Soho apartment turns into a series of scary, whacky misadventures in which his attempts to get home and back to a more or less normal life turn into a series of surreal encounters involving cabbies, bartenders, murderous punks, corpses, and an angry mob. Only there were no corpses or angry mob. There was a cabbie with a really cool stack of Bengali kids ghost story books, illustrated with lovely 1950s-style line drawings of trusted authority figure types: a maternal looking lady, a wise man/hermit, an old codger--looking ever so slightly menacing as they told a group of rapt children--whatever it was they were telling them. The cabbie was driving and wouldn't translate.

I have alarmingly large blisters on both heels from dashing through Village streets after midnight in search of a cheerful fix. They hurt. But in a good way.


add a comment
Sun, April 19, 2009 - 8:17 PM
Dirty, dirty girl...
...large blisters on your heels that hurt so good? Hmm...
Sun, April 19, 2009 - 8:47 PM
These boots, sadly, were not after all made for walking.
Mon, April 20, 2009 - 8:18 AM
As a quest, drinking oneself through the sum-totality of all cocktails has a decadently civilized dash about it. Certainly beats spearing windmills. To think there are acquaintances of mine who can't fathom why they should strive to live beyond the age of 80.

And if those side effects are anything to go by, I'll have to try this one myself.
Mon, April 20, 2009 - 2:49 PM
I envy that american cocktail bar thing...it doesnt work here for some reason. I did enjoy that when in New York. There just isnt that ..going out for cocktails culture.
..but I got scared and found an Irish pub just to sort my thoughts out and re-group my brain.
Wed, April 22, 2009 - 9:13 PM
Michael and selkie, someday I am coming over there. And we will go out for cocktails--or else make them.

Ironic, its missingness in the UK. Pretty scurvy remedies in nice glasses in officer's clubs in the colonies is arguably the origin of the whole damn thing.
Thu, April 30, 2009 - 7:04 AM
sorry about the boots thing.
Thu, April 30, 2009 - 7:19 AM
Hee! The best times always leave mild scars.