i stumbled upon this guy at an LCBO in Toronto, compelled by the allure of “everything that is wrong with this”: 11.95$ price tag, plastic screw-top, the nigh-certainty that it would be somehow worse than Jagermeister; how could one go wrong? but as it turns out, it is not worse than Jagermeister.
well, maybe it is? it is syrupy, certainly, and sweet, yet somehow – maybe it’s just the fresh spring breeze blowing cool across piles of filthy snow, making me all soft-eyed – i’ve really warmed up to it, the way it warms one up. it is like a poor, bumbling brother to the refined orange peel and spice of Amaro Nonino (also known as the handsomest bottle in time, although itself a little too sweet).
i assume it will destroy me.
it calls to mind the wealth of sweet, middling, German bitters that i drank when i was in Berlin last year, in particular the little vaguely coffin-shaped bottles of Kuemmerling that were served straight out of the freezer, still opaque with frost. if it would be inaccurate to claim that i clearly remember the taste of those, which we would ritually whack against the bar, crack open and dispense with in a decreasingly strict choreography, i certainly remember walking into the bar, staffed by charged-hair 50-year-old überpunken, as Rancid’s …And Out Come the Wolves began to play in what would prove to be its entirety. and i remember an argument with a German translator about Benjamin and proviral genetics (respectively) for which i was woefully underprovisioned.
but discrete and well-characterized memories are not, in any case, of the essence. the essence is in fact the effect, the effect of the blur – this was my Berlin baptism, under the wing of my chef friend Jean-Philippe, who as per his rôle seemed to know everybody everywhere, never pay for drinks, and be filled to bursting with bad good ideas. it was one of those looping, spiralling nights of well-meaning debauchery that at some point is even forced to run itself in reverse, because JP realizes he has forgotten a backpack full of knives* at one of the bars through which we’ve stormed in our Go-like hypersociality (as if walking into a bar to “Maxwell Murder” was not teen movie enough), and resolves itself eventually with us at a turkish restaurant (to where i am informed we had taxi’d in search of skewered testicles) as the grey German sun comes up, devouring lamb’s brain soup and ayran like a couple of hepped-up maniacs.
the “next” morning, predictably, was all moon-boots** and deep, laboured, breaths. coffees that do little more than wring the insides. over breakfast – habanero bloody marys and buttermilk pancakes, for which JP has bullied the proprietors to import Québec maple syrup at what i understand is an outrageous price – conversation trips along; hazy recollections, literature, perambulation, mutual acquaintances.
“It’s about walking,” says Jean-Philippe, “it’s about the total annihilation of time and space. . .Hey. You know that guy can suck his own dick?”
so yeah, maybe it reminds me of that.
* chef’s knives. we’re not circus people, for god’s sake.
** “moon-boots” is the phrase we adopted on tour to describe the state of hanged-overness wherein one feels so deeply and physiologically addled that maintaining purchase on the surface of the planet and not toddling off into the vacuum of space may no longer be taken as a fait accompli. like wearing moon-shoes on the bottom of the sea. it is typically accompanied by deep, careful, breaths; not the kind where you’re afraid you might barf, but where you must take care lest you accidentally exhale your entire soul and subjectivity. the phrase vomitself comes to mind, which i assume is a clumsy translation of something German and more or les jarring.