Always Mix Bitters with Pleasure

Always Mix Bitters with Pleasure After finally crossing out two life goals from my Google Tasks list—graduating Barnard College and seeing Obama smile up close and personal when he gave our commencement speech—I knew I had to keep motivated and replace those college tasks with adult ones, lest I succumb to the lifelessness that comes with unemployment and moving to the Bronx.

My new tasks:1. Be an author already. Write something for Christ’s sake.2. Get drunk, for free if you can. You’re poor as shit. (I always find it helpful to elaborate on the tasks. A healthy dose of denigration and reality works wonders on your productivity.)

(And for the record, Obama’s teeth literally sparkle.)

I killed two tasks with one event: the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. I got into the Classic — or MCC for those in the know — courtesy of Angostura Bitters, the illusive and unpronounceable alcohol that wants to inebriate the nation, starting with me.

The event included an exciting array of food and libations that left guests repeatedly asking, “Do I want food or booze or coffee, eggs or biscuits, an Eye-Opener or a Bloody Mary? Dear lord, just tell me what I want!” (Maybe that was just me.)

The day’s events at the Andaz hotel would last 8 hours, and I was determined to go the distance. It began in the morning with eggs and Angostura honey glazed ham, made with honey, fresh lemon juice, a hulking ham and a tablespoon of aromatic bitters. I ate so much that I had to drink a few extra cocktails.

Maybe some people like to spend the day in that buzzed-but-not-stumbling phase of drinking, but not me.

I started with an angostura aperitif after the bartender assured me it was better than coffee in the morning. Considering they were serving “toasty malted berry bark butter guava” coffee from Brooklyn, I was feeling skeptical. With that many adjectives, it had to be good.

But low and behold, the drink really did mix bitters with pleasure. One sip took me back to warm and fuzzy memories of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome-inflicted father relishing in post-meal aperitifs while singing folksongs from the Argentine socialist underground. Equally awesome was the Fee’s Brothers’ extensive line of flavored bitters, totally wild products ranging from rhubarb to Aztec chocolate. I might just have to flavor everything I ever cook again with these bad boys.

Another brand, Aperitivo Cocchi Americano, served up some excellent bitters with the added perk of watching an Italian man ceremoniously wave orange peels over each drink he poured. Very professional, though his waving did give me flashbacks to the shaman who served me peyote in Peru this one time.

Perhaps the highlight of the day occurred as I was hanging out by the bar, drinking a fantastically bitter, award-winning mojito, when a pretty blonde lady in a tight black dress leaned in and whispered, “Hey, party animal, you should go up to the eleventh floor.”

What awaited? Coke? A high-class brothel with coke? The possibilities were limitless.

I took the elevator up to the eleventh floor. Out on the roof of the building, the sun was shining in a way that whispered, “Hey, you won’t be unemployed and living with your mother forever.. Relax, have another cocktail,” just as the rooftop bartender handed me an Angostura old-fashioned.

Old-timey jazz music played softly. It was all a little Gatsby. I snuck to the adjacent balcony and plopped into a plush, circular lounger. I studied my torn Converse against the pure white chair and realized: my writing will never take me to the glories of East Egg, but it could reasonably get me drunk and fed every now and again.

That’s my bittersweet truth.

Hadas Margulies is obsessed with all things dead, particularly the Yiddish language and Eric Northman. Her serfdom is nearly complete at Barnard College, where she serves as an intellectual lackey for ...read more

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