Friday, 10 February 2012
An evening indoors with the Bloody Good Chap...
The scene had been set for one of those epic evenings at home. It was a Thursday night, I had booked a day off on Friday and there were no social engagements in the calendar. Bowling through the door I was thoroughly excited and I turned on record player and blasted out Joe Walsh's satirical yet hedonistic epic 'Life's been good'. The scene had by now been set…
After a cold supper of prosciutto, burrata, crusty bread and mustard fruits I sat down and surveyed the gargantuan Bolivar Churchill that faced me and the bottle of Cointreau that i was sure to make a good dent in. The rigours of the working day seemed so far behind me as I methodically cut the tip from the stoggie and poured myself a first glass of viscous, orange flavoured liqueur into a Waterford crystal tumbler with a few ice cubes. Some of the greatest pleasures in life are short lived and I was certainly going to enjoy this one. My phone wasn't pinging with the usual jackpot-esque sound heralding an email from the office, asking me to action something on the next working day. I could sit back, safe in the knowledge that I could wake up the next morning after a leisurely lie in and indulge in a long weekend.
I took a slow, deep draft of the ice cold beverage and felt a pleasurable shudder as the first drops of the alcohol cascaded down the back of my throat. I am sure many were out, sinking pints in a local or distant watering hole, filling themselves up with cheap alcohol for the inevitable hang-over and the slow drudgery of a Friday stuck behind a desk. I thought of them for an instant, before taking the rich, dark cigar in my hand and bringing a lit match to the open end.
The first billow of smoke was assurance that I had made the right choice and the first few puffs indicated that I had embarked upon a sizeable challenge. The taste was rich, reassuring and at certain points challenging. This particular one had retained a good balance of moisture so I was confidant that it would be a slow burner, a perfect companion for the music and film rostrum that I had set myself for the evening. The first glass of Cointreau had gone down so smoothly that looking at the glass I saw it empty but for the few melting cubes of ice in the bottom. Quickly (but with a grace that a superior liquor like Cointreau requires) I poured a double measure.
The drawing room was already starting to collect with wafting smoke and I had barely started the cigar! It was at this point I decided to test drive one of my most recent purchases from Amazon, Jazz by the legendary guitarist Ry Cooder. A fantastic collection for any Jazz novice, it is packed with a beautifully played selection of standards ranging from the late 19th Century to pioneers like Jelly Roll Morton and Bix Beiderbecke. Let me reiterate that the playing is very accomplished and the orchestration is superb. Of course, it won't be to everyone's taste, but it served as a perfect accompaniment to the proceedings of the evening. Highlights include the uplifting and nostalgic track 'In a Mist' reminiscent of the fantastic Parisian Jazz made so famous by Stephane Grapelli, and the soulful 'Shine', which would not have been out of place in the famous Oak Room at New York's famous Algonquin Hotel!
I knew this night was going to be precious and that it would soon be over (the cigar took around 3 hours), and I hope you forgive me for the indulgent nature of this post. Life is too short not to have these kind of moments, lost in a mist of smoke, fuelled by the sweet comforts of a passé yet thoroughly delicious liqueur.