“Ah! Young people, travel if you can, and if you cannot – travel all the same!”
I had a splendid time at this week’s installment of Petworth Citizen’s Reading Room literary cocktail series. In fact, I had such a good time that I was ashamed to have missed several previous editions! Cocktails events this fun and stimulating should never be skipped; Chantal Tseng’s irresistible combination of good cocktails and literary chats is a must-go for cocktail lovers and bibliophiles (bonus if you’re both). I’m not an authority on Jules Verne but I recall fondly reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and 80 Days Around the World. In adulthood, I enjoyed the rendering of Nemo in Alan Moore’s classic comic “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman,” in which he is portrayed as an Indian nationalist, resembling the original, overtly political Captain Nemo envisioned by Verne. Also, the Verne-influenced “Gun Club” issue of my favorite comic series, Planetary, led me to read the original story, which is a fanciful celebration of Yankee engineering and the wonder of space exploration.
Ok, so the drinks. The first, “The Voyages and Adventures of Captain Hatteras” was probably the best one I’ve ever had at these events. Made with Damouiseau rhum, gran classico bitters, allspice dram, pistachio orgeat, lime, grapefruit, ice, and FIRE, this gorgeous drink tastes as good as it looks. The sweetness level is perfect and the grapefruit juice partners perfectly, lending a very tropical hue to the drink. I really loved the pistachio taste as well, it builds a great organic border to the overall taste. Just an amazing drink that kept on giving as I could pick up the scent of these being made from the bar. Great. Next up was the elegant “The Peal of Lima” made of macchu pisco, La Guita manzanilla, Peruvian tea infused Dolin Blanc Vermouth, grapes, and lemon oil. The Pearl has a pretty conventional, pisco-lined first half, but the real fun comes in the middle when you taste the tea infused vermouth – a very complex, herbal taste that was very distinct. Such a unique and wild taste from such a simple looking drink.
Then I had the “Around the World in Eighty Days” made of Plymouth gin, Tio Diego amontillado, Yellow chartreuse, persimmon, and star anise. This was a very distinct taste with a sedate gin influence and a heavy chartreuse and persimmon flavor. A multi-layed taste takes hold mid-way in the drink, and I honestly had a hard time placing it – its herbal in a way with the fruity tinge of the persimmon, as well as pungent. Distinct and taking risks, which I always applaud. Moving forward I had the “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” made of Linie Akvavit, grapefruit, honey syrup, absinthe, and rosemary. This was another different sensation with a licorice sensation. The akvavit comes out hard, and the drink overall is very rich and sweet, propelled by the grapefruit and honey syrup. The solid drink is brought together with a nice rosemary flavored bow tie at the end.
All good things must come to an end, and the final drink of the special evening was “Robur the Conqueror” with Bender’s rye, Kina l’Avion D’Or, Creme de Cocao, and lemon. In my notes I wrote “Wow” after sipping this drink – this was a wonderful, lemon-heavy taste that I really embraced. The rye and the creme de cocao come together surprisingly well here – I was a little concerned since I’m not a huge fan of either on their own, but marriage made them palatable. It was a surprisingly easy drink, and a fun way to end another wonderful evening at the Reading Room.