Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Havana Club Rum
I have the honor of saying that my friend Giuseppe Gonzalez, owner and bartender at Painkiller (a tiki bar in NYC), was the one who served me my first Havana Club daiquiri.
Picture this: I'm sitting on a backless stool in a 1930s style speakeasy, in the heart of New York. It's 2009 (before Painkiller opened). I order my usual: "Bartender's choice, but make it something I've never had before." Ten minutes later, Giuseppe places a drink in front of me. He has a huge grin on his face; it's unlike one I've ever seen before. Giuseppe is the kind of guy who either has the most serious look on his face, or is grinning ear to ear, face contort with humor and wackiness.
This grin was subdued and underscored the latter kind of expression at the same time.
"Havana Club daiquiri. Lawrence, I'm sorry this took so long. So I made you a Cuban rum daiquiri. Cheers."
I curiously examined the 3.5 oz cocktail. It was light yellow-green, almost golden. A delicious sweet aroma filled my nostrils. I gingerly and carefully moved my mouth toward the rim of the glass...
My life changed at that point.
Sam Sifton recently published an article in the NY Times which states that rats who ate sweet and fatty and delicious foods became addicted to them like a cocaine addict to blow.
The scientists studied the fat rats’ brains. They looked like a cocaine abuser’s: the animals were fiends, addicted to the core. Anyone who has eaten the deep-fried lamb scrumpets at April Bloomfield’s Breslin restaurant in the Ace Hotel in Manhattan knows just where this is going. I thought about stealing a car stereo once, just to finance another order. We’re all just rats in a maze.
I was hooked, only this time to Cuban rum.
I became obsessed. I asked all my friends who were going abroad, "Can you bring me back Cuban rum on the way back?" "We'll try... we'll see..." they all replied.
A few months pass. People go on vacation and return. "I couldn't find it." "I didn't check my bag and I couldn't take it aboard." "I'm sorry. I forgot."
But one day, I'm at home sipping wine in my kitchen, reading some food literature, maybe food porn. A knock on the door. I open it and there stands my dear friend Jorge.
We exchange hugs and then he reveals the reason for his visit. A bottle of Havana Club!
I could not be more elated.
Thanks Jorge. And thanks Giuseppe.